The Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry could not meet with the Committee as planned because she had to attend a Cabinet meeting. As a result, the Committee revised its agenda and discussed the second draft of its Trade Report. The deliberations covered several topics; these included a definition of “decent jobs”, regional economic integration, tariffs, and the country’s agricultural trade strategy. Members were encouraged to forward their inputs to the Committee Secretary, which would then be incorporated in the Report.
Opening Remarks by the Chairperson
The Chairperson informed Members that the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry could not meet with the Committee as planned because she had to attend a Cabinet meeting. As a result, the Committee would discuss the second draft of its Trade report.
Deliberations on Trade Report
The Committee deliberated on the second draft of the Trade report.
The Committee discussed whether trade served industry or industry served trade.
Mr N Gcwabaza (ANC) said that trade was an outcome of industry.
Mr S Marais (DA) said industrialisation should incorporate import replacement by the beneficiation of raw materials.
Mr A Van Der Westhuizen (DA) asked if Accelerated and Shared Growth-South Africa (ASGISA) was still functioning.
The Chairperson replied that it was an initiative not a policy and that the Finance Minister had made reference to a new growth path.
Mr Marais wanted to know what was meant by “decent jobs”.
The Chairperson replied that it was a concept of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) not the ANC.
Mr Gcwabaza added that decent jobs implied job certainty, benefits and a living wage. Also, there was a growing trend of casualising work with approximately 4 million casual workers in the country.
Ms F Hajaig (ANC) believed that the country’s own trade policy should look at helping Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Africa as a whole in order to build manufacturing capacity and to get a more balanced trade figure between countries. South Africa itself was at a crossroads in terms of industrial policy and regional integration was defined in terms of the African Unity parameters. South Africa should take the initiative to assist regional integration; otherwise other countries outside of Africa would come in and take over those markets.
Mr Marais said that trade liberalisation implied that intervention was needed.
Ms Hajaig said the World Trade Organisation (WTO) was rules a based regime where the developed nations developed the rules.
Mr Marais said that cheaper imports might seem more affordable but that one had to factor in the lost opportunity costs. Shoprite and Ackermans might be penetrating Africa very well but they were doing so with Chinese products.
Mr Marais said that agri-industries might be competitive but that this was at the cost of lost employment opportunities. South Africa had been a net exporter of agricultural produce in the past but was not any more and that this held implications for land reform. He said that pragmatic support, not necessarily farming subsidies, should be given to farmers; this could be in the form of fertilizer, low-interest loans or technical support.
Ms Hajaig said that a role must be found for emerging development farmers with concomitant support.
Mr Marais wanted to know if the country sourced petroleum form Angola, as it was part of SADC.
Ms Hajaig replied that the country was in negotiations with Angola and Nigeria although the bulk of Angola’s output was contracted to the USA. She added that the South African Customs Union (SACU) was not regarded as a viable entity and SACU’s relevance in the SADCC paradigm needed to be decided.
The Chairperson reminded Members to forward their inputs on the report to the Committee Secretary. These would be incorporated in the Report.
Discussion on oversight visit
The Committee agreed to schedule an oversight visit to the Eastern Cape on 20-21 July 2010.
Mr Njikelana proposed that the Committee visit Umtata and the surrounding areas.
The Committee agreed to spread the workload by forming task teams to research the topics that the Committee would be covering in future. The three teams, divided into groups of two, would focus on Estate Agents, Co-operatives and Companies.
Mr Van Der Westhuizen asked that Members be informed of all sub-committee meetings so that they could attend if they wished.
The Chairperson requested the Secretary to provide the Committee with details of the planned international trip by the following Wednesday.
The meeting was adjourned.
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