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TRADE AND INDUSTRY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
31 July 2002
INTERNATIONAL TRADE ADMINISTRATION BILL: BRIEFING
Chairperson: Dr. R H Davies
Documents handed out:
TRADE AND INDUSTRY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
Briefing on the International Trade Administration Bill
International Trade Administration Bill - draft
The presentation explained the purpose of the Bill. The committee welcomed the objectives of the Bill. The discussion focused on the practical implications and implementation of the Bill.
Mr T Mathona (Deputy Director General: Department of Trade and Industry), presented the objectives and purpose of the International Trade Bill (see document). Essentially the Bill aims at making international trade both efficient and easier for South Africa and its trading partners
The Chairperson commented that Clause 5 of the Bill seemed to provide for a cumbersome process if the Minister of Trade and Industry had to gazette policy statements and directives.
Mr Mathona explained that the Minister was viewed as a political actor who determined trade policies in consultation with the Commission for International Trade Administration (CITA).
The Chairperson commented that experts should be consulted to give comments and make recommendations regarding the Bill. Hearings would need to be held on the Bill for public comment. Mr Mathona agreed with the suggestion.
The Chairperson wanted to know how quickly and efficiently would the SACU Agreement effect trade remedies for issues such as dumping.
Mr Mathona replied that it was premature to answer that question because the process of the DTI strategising with the Board on Trade & Tariffs (BTT) and the World Trade Organisation had not been completed. He added that there were no definitive answers to his question.
Mr Lockey (ANC) wanted to know why Mr Mathona had not mentioned NEPAD and AU in his presentation.
Mr Mathona explained that the Bill dealt only with regional policy, but that it was in line with the NEPAD and AU vision of economic integration.
Mr Lockey also asked what Mr Mathona meant by "global integration".
Mr Mathona explained that he referred to ways in which South Africa would work closely with regional countries and to interface and co-ordinate with the rest of the world through the World Trade Organisation.
Ms Moloi (ANC) asked if the other institutions had participated in the drafting of the Bill.
Mr Mathona replied that this was the case but added that they still needed further public comment.
Ms Moloi commented that the Bill seemed to put too much workload on the Director General.
Mr Masega (NEDLAC) was given a chance to comment on the Bill. He was happy with the Bill but needed some clarification. Firstly, he thought that the Bill did not provide for the Commission to initiate its own investigations. Secondly, the Bill was not clear on the separation of powers between the CEO and the Chair of the Commission. Thirdly did a quorum of the Commission include both part time and full time Commissioners.
Ms N Maimela (CITA) read through Clause 16(d2) of the Bill to show that the Commission can initiate its own investigations. She then read through Clauses 12(3) and 13 to show that the Bill was clear on the separation of powers between the CEO and the Chair. Ms Maimela referred to Clause 12(5) of the Bill to show that "majority" included both part time and full time Commissioners.
Ms Van Meelen (NEDLAC: Labour) was also given an opportunity to comment on the Bill. She suggested that the Bill should first look into issues in industrial policy rather than secondary issues of administration. She also suggested that policies arising from the provision of the Bill should be subjected to parliamentary review and public oversight. She also urged CITA to be efficient and well resourced unlike the present BTT which was inefficient and damaging to industry and employment. She also said that the deadlock mechanism of the proposed institutions did not seem to take into account employment imperatives. On the SACU Agreement she commented that such an agreement should make trade policy quick and efficient and protect the interests of South Africa and should be tabled in Parliament before the Bill can be passed.
Mr McDonald (NEDLAC: BSA representative) was happy about the Bill. He read through a lengthy speech in comment on the Bill (document awaited). Essentially his concern was that the Bill did not seem to be independent but heavily mentioned the SACU Agreement in its provisions. He warned that such a heavy reliance on SACU would cripple the purpose of the Bill.
Ms September (ANC) asked if the DTI had made any study on administration of trade.
Ms Maimela said that she was pleased to inform the committee that DTI had lined up a study tour to Lima because, from the DTI's ongoing research, the WTO had informed them that Lima was the closest model of what South Africa wanted to do.
Ms Sigabi (DP) noted that there was no mention of remedies regarding the adjudicative powers of the Commission.
Ms Maimela explained that the import/export control was the responsibility of the Commission without SACU's involvement.
In conclusion, the Chairperson noted the concern regarding the relationship between the Bill and SACU Agreement and the need for public comment. It was noted that the Bill was likely to be introduced to Parliament on 8th August.
The meeting was adjourned.
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