The Cairns Group Farm Leaders are deeply concerned by the United States (US) Administration’s announcement that the US Government will provide US$12 billion to support US farmers impacted by tariffs imposed on US agricultural exports.
Against the backdrop of a full-blown trade war between the US and China, and the US also targeting, amongst others the European Union and fellow North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) countries (Canada and Mexico), thus foe and friend alike, the BRICS Business Forum was held at the Sandton Convention Centre on Wednesday, 25July 2018. Dr John Purchase, as board member of Business Unity South Africa (BUSA), attended the forum and shares some perspectives.
One of the most prolific messages from the Nelson Mandela centenary lecture presented by Prof Patrick Lumumba was that Tata Madiba would have asked why do African countries consume what they don’t produce, and produce what they don’t consume. He further made a point about coffee, cocoa, tea and other raw commodities that are exported by African countries, and then import expensive, high-value finished products derived from the same inputs they exported. - Dr Mmatlou Kalaba, a trade economist with the University of Pretoria and the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy and Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz head of agribusiness research.
Agriculture has its fair share of challenges, but I try to find uplifting domestic and regional developments to discuss. This week, agricultural trade was in my cross hairs. For context, I recently reflected on the positive trade performance in calendar 2017, when South Africa's agricultural exports surpassed $10 billion (about R134 billion) for the first time, boosted by growth in exports of edible fruits, beverages, spirits, vegetables, grains and other farm products. The $10.0 billion figure represented a 15% year-on-year increase from $8.7 billion. Africa and Europe were the largest destinations for agricultural exports, collectively absorbing 67% of total exports last year in value terms. Asia was also an important market, taking 24%. The Americas and the rest of the world accounted for 5% and 4%, respectively. In the same period, imports increased by 5% year on year, reaching $6.7 billion, particularly driven by wheat and rice. – Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz Head: Agribusiness Research *Written for and first appeared on Business Times on 16 July 2018
I often use this column to present an update of domestic and regional food and agricultural production conditions. Earlier in 2018 I shared the positive outlook for SA’s summer and winter crop production. Earlier in 2018 I shared the positive outlook for SA’s summer and winter crop production. As farmers wind up the summer crop harvest process and winter crop planting approaches completion in the country, I think it’s appropriate to present an update again. This time around I have good and bad news. – Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz Head: Agribusiness Research *Written for and first appeared on Business Day on 19 July 2018
It is no secret that South Africa, like many emerging economies around the world, is struggling to tackle the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment. These challenges are not insurmountable, but we are currently on the wrong side of the curve with signs that the economy is more concentrated than ever before. Unemployment, and youth unemployment, in particular is a ticking time bomb as the majority of South Africans are excluded from the mainstream economy. – Theo Boshoff, Agbiz Head: Legal Intelligence *Written for and first published in Mail & Guardiian on 13 July 2018
Europe remains a major market for South African agricultural exports and has growth potential, but a partnership approach is needed to address the sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) and technical barriers to trade (TBT) measures affecting exports such as citrus, said Sifiso Ntombela Agbiz head of International Trade and Investment at the congress.
We typically use the Agbiz/IDC Agribusiness Confidence Index to gauge the health of the South African agricultural sector, as well as the potential investment path. Of late, a number of commentaries have surfaced arguing that the discussions about the proposed expropriation without compensation have not negatively affected investment in the agricultural sectors, suggesting that investment has actually increased over time. This argument leans on investment in JSE food listed companies, which we believe would not be an ideal measure of observing investment in farming. - Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz Head: Agribusiness Research and Dr John Purchase, Agbiz CEO
South Africans are a very inquisitive nation. Each time I tweet about South Africa's agricultural fortunes, someone asks about proportions of that particular product in racial terms. This past week, I posted a chart about liquor consumption – 76% of it is accounted for by beer. Almost immediately, the question popped up – what proportion of the barley and sorghum used to make the beer was grown by black farmers? – Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz economist *Written for and first published in the Business Times on 08 July 2018.
Since the passing of the parliamentary motion to review section 25 of the Constitution there has been an explosion of views on land reform, land tenure regimes and state ownership of land. From these debates it has become clear that there are diverse views on the value of land and its role as an instrument of financial security and leverage. – Wandile Sihlobo and Prof Johann Kirsten *Written for and first published on Business Day on 9 July 2018