When adopted by Parliament, the International Trade Administration Bill will revolutionise South African international trade, the trade and industry department said on Friday.
”The election of a democratic government in South Africa in 1994 necessitated a review of South African trade relations in the region and the globe,” the department said in a statement.
Economic growth in South Africa had to be underpinned by a strengthened manufacturing sector and increased exports.
South Africa therefore had to review its relationship within the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) to facilitate an equal and fair trade relationship, built on a shared developmental agenda within the region, to improve competitive access to global markets.
”Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland (BLNS) add an additional market of 6-million people. South African exports to BLNS exceeded R29-billion, and imports totalled R7,2-billion in 1998. SACU enables economic and political stability and serves as a regional platform for global integration,” the department said.
The draft bill provides for the transformation of the current Board of Tariff and Trade (BTT) into the Commission for International Trade Administration (CITA).
In terms of the bill, CITA will continue BTT functions, such as customs duties, rebates, import and export controls, and anti-dumping measures, but will also seek to facilitate co-ordination and consensus around trade policy at SACU level.
Among other things, the bill provides for the minister of trade and industry to determine trade policy and regulate imports and exports.
It also seeks to simplify customs tariffs, and provide for shared decision-making and common policies within SACU on trade, customs, agriculture, industry, and competition.
A dispute settlement mechanism is also provided for.
The National Assembly’s trade and industry committee is scheduled to hold public hearings on the bill on September 10. – Sapa