Complaint number
NTB Type
5.4. Quotas  
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.
Status note
Following a series of meetings organised by the SADC Business Council and subsequent follow-ups with the Department of Trade Industry and Competition (DTIC) in South Africa, the DTIC on 26 November 2020 amended the COVID-19 export control regulation issued in February 2020 which removed, with immediate effect, the restrictions on export of essential
medicines for SADC countries.  
Progress update note
On 23rd July 2020, SADC Secretariat reported that a follow-up meeting held with ITAC and SARS on Friday 10 July 2020 to discuss pharmaceutical NTBs in the region recommended that:
i) South Africa NTB focal point follow up the concern here registered, taking into account the recommendations in the report of the meeting.
ii) SADC Business Council will submit a letter to the Minister of Trade and
Industry urging the Ministry to extend the exemption for export permits to
the whole SADC region.
iii) SADC Business Council to hold regular meetings with ITAC and SARS where these issues could be
raised, and solutions provided  
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
Date of incident
Date of resolution
Product Description

Total value
Date reported
2020-06-22 11:21  
2021-02-14 11:41