Business Day (Johannesburg)

5 November 2007

South Africa: A Guide to Import And Export Control Measures

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Johannesburg — THE International Trade Administration Act (ITA Act) Number 71 of 2002, and particularly Section 6, which relates to the minister's power to regulate imports and exports, provides for the promulgation of import and export control regulations in SA.

The provisions of the act with regard to import and export control underpin endeavours of the International Trade Administration Commission (Itac) to contribute towards the primary objectives of the government pertaining to raising incomes, growth and development.

The act defines "export" as "to take or send goods, or to cause them to be taken or sent, from SA to a country or territory outside SA".

Within Itac, import and export control matters are dealt with by the Import and Export Control Unit. Its objectives are interconnected with the broad primary objectives of the government -- to support sustainable industrialisation, and enhance international competitiveness.

In terms of the export control regulations, new goods of 177 tariff subheadings are subject to export control measures for various reasons. It goes without saying just how critical the correct tariff classification of a product is. Export control permits for the exportation of these goods are issued in accordance with approved policies and procedures.

It is important that, as an exporter, you study the export control regulations, which are very detailed in their application. As in the case of the import control regime, export control measures are in many instances also maintained at the request of other government departments and agencies, in support of their strategies.

According to Itac, export control measures are therefore maintained on specific goods for a variety of purposes, such as:

  • Strategic reasons. The exportation of hydrocarbons is controlled for strategic purposes and in co- operation with the minerals and energy department, to assist in ensuring that sufficient stock levels are available locally at all times.
  • Environmental reasons. Control is also exercised over exports of ferrous and nonferrous waste and scrap, waste paper and paperboard, to ensure that there is compliance with the provisions of the Basel Convention, and to ensure that recyclers and foundries are given an opportunity to acquire raw material prior to exportation.
  • International agreements. SA is a signatory to various international agreements involving trade in a number of goods. Control is exercised in terms of the Montreal Protocol in co-operation with the environmental affairs and tourism department. Chemicals that can be used for the illegal manufacture of narcotics are also controlled in co-operation with the police.

Co-operation in this regard exists between the import and export control unit and the environmental affairs and tourism department.

  • Beneficiation requirements. Control measures on certain minerals and precious stones support the minerals and energy department's beneficiation strategy.
  • Social reasons and for the purpose of combating crime. The exportation of certain used vehicles is controlled to help prevent the exportation of stolen vehicles.

In its recently published annual report for the 2006-07 financial year, Itac said it issued 5008 export permits and 14789 import permits, declined 241 import and export permits, and undertook 897 unscheduled inspections and 1435 container inspections.

Prof André Jordaan is director of the Investment and Trade Policy Centre of the University of Pretoria. This article was co-written by researchers Riaan de Lange, Reyno Seymore and Chris Lotter.

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