South Africa: Wine Exports Are Now Legal, or Are They?

A police officer adjusts a colleague’s mask (file photo).

Marginal gains were achieved when wine exports were allowed this week, but for many in the industry, it's a hollow win.

News went out on 7 April 2020 that a special dispensation had been granted to the South African wine industry to allow wine exports during the Covid-19 lockdown period. An industry financially strangled by legislation allowing no local alcohol sales heaved a small sigh of relief.

But a task team of industry bodies from Wines of South Africa (WOSA), Vinpro (representing 2,500 producing cellars), and South African Liquor Brand Owners Association (SALBA), immediately set to work to unpack the practical implications for confused exporters. On 9 April, producers were thrown a temporary lifeline with detail about how bulk and bottled wine orders may be legally dispatched, including transporting of wine from cellar to port. But barriers still exist for many small and large wine producers trying to keep cash flow buoyant and salaries paid.

To recap, a 7 April Government Gazette Amendment Regulations was issued by Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula, relating to the Disaster Management Act of 2002, concerning sea cargo operations and freight operations. During lockdown, the transportation of wines at sea ports and airport ports of...

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