Changes in South Africa’s global agricultural trade regime, 1996–2013
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This paper presents an examination of the major trends in South African international trade in agricultural products between the years 1996 and 2013. The analysis covers three broad areas: (1) the changing weight of key trading partners in South Africa’s overall agricultural trade regime; (2) changes in the major products being traded with the rest of the world; and (3) changes in the products being traded with each of its key trading partners. The paper begins by analysing the changes in the total export and total import values to and from the trading partners identified above, and the changing shares of total value held by each partner. The next section focuses on the major products traded in terms of value – both how the composition of the product profile has transformed, and the main sources of the trade in these products. Finally, each trading partner is given individual focus. The EU remained the dominant source of imports and the dominant destination for exports throughout the period. The import market shifted dramatically away from the US and Africa toward Brazil and China. In the export market, the presence of the USA, Japan and MERCUSOR receded whilst Africa and China underwent strong growth. The top two export destinations, the EU and Africa, dominated the market by a significant margin, accounting for well over half of total export value throughout. Rice and wheat were the dominant products within the import market throughout the period, whilst the position of poultry meat strengthened and sunflower-seed oil receded. In poultry meat imports, the USA saw sharp decline, whilst South America and the EU underwent a very strong rise. The major shifts in the export market were away from sugar and titanium oxide, and towards fresh fruit and wine.