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Export permits were identified by participants as a major issue in South Africa but not an issue outside South Africa. To apply for an export permit, a company engaging in international trade concurrently applies for the export permit approval from the International Trade Administration Commission of South Africa (ITAC), Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) and the National Department of Health (NDOH). Once approved by DTIC and NDOH, ITAC provides the exporter with a permit. Once the permit is issued by ITAC, the exporter will send the permit approval to South African Revenue Services (SARS) to issue a customs clearance for export to take place. However, one could have an ITAC permit and not have a SARS customs clearance. Without the SARS clearance, medicines will not be exported.
The issue of export permits is discussed in detail below:
1. Due to the COVID-19, South Africa restricted the export of pharmaceutical products to meet domestic demand. While the objective to meet domestic demand is noble, the challenge is that some medicines limited to export permits are unrelated to COVID-19.
2. Also, application forms keep changing even after engagements with stakeholders with the export products restricted under a single HS code.
3. Another challenge is that essential medicines that are exempt from export permits are subject to export permits. This violates SADC regional guidelines for harmonising and facilitating movement of critical goods and services across the region during the COVID-19
4. Products that are readily available locally are also subjected to export permits (the exception being countries in the Southern Africa Customs Union-SACU). This in turn restricts movement of lifesaving medicines to needy markets and affects company profitability.
5. Participants also highlighted frustration with the slow approval of permits (although it is improving) in South Africa by the International Trade Administration Committee (ITAC), South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry which is received in a fragmented fashion, resulting in delays, thereby putting products at risk.
6. The above challenges on export permits in South Africa were confirmed by a participant from Mauritius. According to the participant, his company has been unable to order new stock from South Africa since March 2020. Their stock has been depleted due to delays in issuance of export permits by ITAC.
7. Lastly, participants also expressed their frustration with the slow processes by the SARS in processing customs clearance of export permits and noting that the requirements are changing on a regular basis without proper notice.
- Progress update note
- Policy or regulatory NTB
South Africa: International Trade Administration Commission of South Africa (ITAC)
South African Revenue Services (SARS) (Government institution)
- Reporting Country or Region
- Country specific trade issue
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- Product Description
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- Date reported