SA urged to increase agro exports to BRICS


Agricultural products from South Africa

Executive Editor
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – SOUTH Africa’s focus on the BRICS bloc, in terms of agricultural exports, must not be at the expense of other important markets in the continent.

This is according to an economist, Wandile Sihlobo, while defending his call for the country to focus on the bloc, which is an acronym for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

“So, when one calls for increased focus on the BRICS, this is not at the exclusion of other existing and important agricultural export markets for South Africa,” he argued.

Sihlobo is an economist at Agricultural Business Chamber.

He said South Africa’s agricultural interests in the BRICS markets were not at the expense of the existing and vital export markets in the African continent, European Union (EU), Asia, Americas, Middle-East and others.

These existing markets are seen as essential.

South Africa exported a record US$12,8 billion in agricultural products in 2022.

The African continent was the leading market, accounting for 37 percent of South Africa’s agricultural exports in 2022.

Asia was the second largest agricultural market, accounting for 27 percent of exports, followed by the EU, the third largest market, accounting for 19 percent.

The Americas region was the fourth largest, accounting for 7 percent. The remaining 10 percent went to the rest of the world.

The UK was one of the leading markets within the ‘rest of the world’ category.

Maize, wine, grapes, citrus, berries, nuts, apples and pears, sugar, avocados, and wool were some of the top exportable products in 2022.

In value terms, South Africa already exports roughly half of its annual agricultural produce a year.

“As we expect our production to increase in the coming years with additional land put into production, we will need other export markets. It is at this point that BRICS becomes essential,” Sihlobo added.

Fellow BRICS members account for a relatively small share of South Africa’s agricultural exports – an average of 8 percent over the past decade in total agricultural exports of $9,9 billion.

China is the leading market, accounting for an average of 5 percent of South Africa’s agricultural exports worldwide.

The second largest market was Russia, accounting for an average of 2 percent.

At the same time, India and Brazil were negligible importers of South African agricultural products.

The $764 million imported by fellow BRICS members from South Africa over the past ten years makes South Africa a small player in the agricultural trade of this grouping, Sihlobo said.

China is the largest importer accounting for 67 percent of the total BRIC agriculture import of $196 billion, followed by Russia (16 percent), India (12 percent) and Brazil (5 percent).

These realities, according to the economist, imply that within the agribusiness stream of the BRICS Business Council and the broader political grouping, the South African representatives should continue to advocate for lowering import tariffs for agricultural products, specifically within India and China.

Sihlobo believes the priority countries for expanding agricultural exports should be Bangladesh, China, India, Japan, Mexico, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Taiwan, the United States (US) and Vietnam.

“All have sizeable populations and large imports of agricultural products,” Sihlobo explained.

– CAJ News

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