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South African farms face export challenges to the EU and UK under new empowerment rules

An article from BNN Bloomberg has reported that South African farms considered "too white" will soon be unable to export their products to the United Kingdom and the European Union.

This decision, as mentioned in the Government Gazette and reported by the Johannesburg-based City Press newspaper, is based on new regulations requiring farmers to meet specific Black economic empowerment targets to maintain their export permits.

These new guidelines will affect agricultural businesses with an annual turnover of 10 million rand (approximately $534,000) or more. A range of products including fruit, milk, cream, butter, nuts, sugar, jam, fruit purée, fruit juices, yeast, table grapes, and wine will be impacted by this change.

The Southern African Agri Initiative (Saai), a farmers' lobbying group, has expressed concerns that these rules could harm investor security, job creation, and growth in South Africa's agricultural sector. They argue that the measures are outside the bounds of internationally accepted protocols.

Theo de Jager, head of Saai, stated that they plan to oppose these regulations in various local and international forums, including courts and multilateral agencies of the UN and the African Union.

The Democratic Alliance, South Africa's largest opposition party, has filed a complaint with the trade offices of the EU and the UK. They argue that the regulations contravene the principles of fair trade and violate South Africa's agreements with these regions, which are based on the protection of human rights, democratic principles, and the rule of law.

In 2022, South African agricultural exports amounted to about 240 billion rand ($12.8 billion), with 20% destined for the EU and 4% for the UK. South African companies have been encouraged to adopt Black-empowerment plans to address financial inequalities stemming from the apartheid era.


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