Opinion

Beggar-thy-neighbour is the basis of SA's sugar and textile masterplans

25 April 2021 - 00:00 By Donald Mackay

A major part of the plan President Cyril Ramaphosa is punting for economic growth and recovery is threatening to tear the delicate Southern African Customs Union (Sacu) apart. As the government produces a string of "masterplans" designed to focus policy and effort into selected (and to be protected) industries, the other countries in the union - Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini and Namibia - are protesting that Sacu is being made irrelevant.

At the heart of the disquiet are trade rules adopted by SA that treat its neighbours as if they are colonies. The masterplans for sugar and textiles are particularly disadvantageous for them, leading to heated reactions. Sacu's council of ministers recently instructed the International Trade Administration Commission to review, within two weeks, a contentious rebate, only just created, for imported textiles...

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