The department of agriculture and Land Affairs and the Department of Trade and Industry are considering the possibility of import tariffs to protect local farmers. A griculture director-general Njabulo Nduli told reporters on 29 October after a parliamentary committee meeting that the two departments are in talks about measures to help certain industries that have been damaged by cheap imports. She pointed out that the problem was particularly bad in the dairy industry as imports had “battered” the domestic market, adding that protective measures could also be applied to soya beans and flour.
Nduli warned, however, that import tariffs should be approached with caution, and international rules and unintended consequences should be considered. ccording to the media, Prof Johan Willemse from the Department Of Agricultural Economics at the University of the Free State has commented that it’s time government investigates the implementation of import tariffs to protect dairy and soya producers. M eanwhile, Norma Tregurtha, a trade and agribusiness specialist at ComMark, warned at a conference organised by Trade and Industrial Policy Strategies that government only had a small theoretical opportunity to raise tariffs in about one-fifth of products.
South African imports tariffs have been lowered below the levels provided for in the Marrakesh Agreement of 1994, which led to the establishment of the World Trade Organisation. Further free trade agreements, like our deal with the EU, have superseded the Marrakesh allowances. “There’s consensus that once a country has lowered tariffs, it can’t bring them back to old levels,” Tregurtha said. – Drieka Burger