Cape Town - While South Africa is not
seeking a "trade war" with the United Kingdom over a
decision by retailers in that country to import wine in bulk rather
than bottles, it will be looking at bulk importation of whisky.
Briefing reporters in Pretoria on
Wednesday following cabinet's fortnightly meeting, trade and industry
chief director agro-processing Stephen Hanival said the UK retailers'
decision posed a "serious risk" to the local wine industry.
Earlier, government spokesman Jimmy
Manyi said Cabinet had noted the decision to switch from bottled to
bulk wine, and had approved a series of developments to reduce the
Among the nine proposals it had come up
with was a "study on the impact of possible bulk imports of
whisky from the United Kingdom".
It also planned a "series of
engagements to highlight the negative socioeconomic costs of the UK
retailers' demand for bulk wine, and interactions with the SA Revenue
Hanival said an estimated 300 to 700
bottling-related jobs had been lost in South Africa's wine sector as
a result of a "very significant" swing to bulk exports
since 2006. Last year, more than half of the wine exported was sent
"This is a serious risk to the
South African wine industry," he said, adding that it was being
done "under the guise of environmental concerns".
UK retailers were seeking to import
wine in bulk and bottle it in that country because this was cheaper,
Retailers in the UK maintain that the
bulk import of wine is more cost-effective and more environmentally
Hanival warned that such
"quasi-environmental standards" could well spread to other
sectors in South Africa, including fruit juice exports, and spirits
such as brandy.
Asked if looking at the possible bulk
import of whisky to South Africa from the UK might not spark a "trade
war", he said he hoped it would not.
"We certainly hope this
development on bulk wine doesn't lead to a trade war... with the
UK... However, South Africa does have a responsibility to protect its
trade," Hanival said.
He noted that South Africa imported
whisky to the value of R1.7bn from the UK, and exported R997m in
Manyi said among the steps that would
be taken was a process to develop a five-year strategy for the wine
industry to help place it on a sustainable growth path trajectory.
Government would also engage the wine
and packaging industries to develop innovative packaging solutions,
with the emphasis on sustainable packaging, he said.
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