3 March 2011
The government has launched an early warning system to ensure South African exporters’ access to markets by keeping them up to date with technical changes to international export regulations.
The system takes into account the increasing role that technical barriers and non-tariff barriers used by both developed and developing countries are playing in the global trading regime.
South African exports are required to comply with a range of international standards in order to ensure access to markets.
Speaking at the formal launch of the system in Pretoria on Wednesday, Trade and Industry Deputy Director-General Nimrod Zalk said the system, which has been in operation since October, has many benefits for the South African export industry.
“It alerts exporters rapidly to proposed changes,” Zalk said. “This makes it possible for them to submit comments on the proposed changes. It also makes affected South African industries and companies aware of possible changes that may be required to its processes in order to comply with the requirements of the trading partner.”
The system was developed and is being administered by the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) and works in terms of World Trade Organisation (WTO) agreements on technical barriers to trade.
According to the agreements, countries are required to publish and notify the WTO of all new as well as amended technical regulations 60 days in advance of their adoption, in order allow comments and give trading partners time to get acquainted with new regulations before they become effective.
Between 1995 and December 2009, South Africa put through a total 172 notifications, specifically relating to food safety and health. China put through the most notifications of all countries – 11 564 – during the same period.
Exporters can register on the SABS website www.sabs.co.za and join a mailing list to receive weekly notifications of changes.
Exporters who feel that changes may result in their products being denied access to markets due to unjustified technical regulations can notify the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), which will make inquiries with the relevant trading partners.
Geoff Visser of the SABS said that, should subscribers to the weekly e-mails want to comment, this should be done within five days of receiving the e-mail, after which e-mails that have been collected will be sent to the DTI.