Organised agriculture and the DA are objecting to a BEE requirement to obtain certain export permits. According to a Rapport report, the export permit requirements published in the Government Gazette this month requires all businesses with a turnover of more than R10m to comply with BEE requirements before they qualify for a permit to export milk, butter, fruit, nuts, sugar, jam, fruit juices and purees, grapes and wine to the EU and UK.

DA MP Noko Masipa said the rules are ‘the bureaucratic equivalent of the pencil test for SA agricultural exporters’. 

The DA has submitted complaints to the EU trade commission and the British Ministry of Trade.

Theo de Jager of agricultural body Saai said very few, if any, exporters have a turnover of less than R10m and the requirement will have a massive impact on farmer’s international competitiveness.

‘How does one implement BEE in a family farming venture?’

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Other role-players in the sector cautioned that the upheaval about the BEE requirement could derail ‘sensitive negotiations’ with trade partners.

According to a report in Die Burger, the measures specifically deal with quotas instituted in terms of the Economic Partnership Agreement between SADC, the UK, and EU.

Rico Basson, of the wine industry body Vinpro, said the BEE component is part of the methodology to be used in awarding quotas for permits and it is wrong to view BEE-compliance as ‘compulsory’. 

Agbiz CEO Theo Boshoff said ‘sensationalist’ claims about the requirements could damage the agricultural export sector when agreements with trade partners are reviewed.

The permit requirements include several requirements, such as sanitary conditions, phytosanitary certification, and rules about origin of products apart from the BEE component.

Full report in Die Burger (subscription needed)