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Chief Agbiz economist Wandile Sihlobo acknowledges relevant impact

EU protests spark concern in South African agriculture sector

Farmers across the European Union have initiated protests, significantly impacting the global agricultural landscape. Thabile Nkunjana, a senior economist at South Africa's National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC), has highlighted the potential risks these protests pose to South Africa's agricultural exports, particularly to the EU. "We need to keep an eye on it," Nkunjana advises, pointing to the EU's critical role as a major market for South African exports like fruit, wines, and nuts.

Nkunjana elaborates on the causes of the EU protests, including concerns over import protection, dwindling agricultural subsidies, and reduced chemical and fertilizer usage. These factors could directly threaten South Africa's agricultural sector, which relies heavily on the EU market. Currently, the EU is the third-largest market for South African agricultural exports, accounting for 19% of the total in the third quarter of 2023.

The necessity of finding new markets in the event of losing access to the EU is underscored, a challenging endeavor that demands time and effort to cultivate consumer preferences in alternative regions. Additionally, changes in EU subsidies and fertilizer policies may affect European farmers' competitive edge and profitability, potentially impacting South African exports.

Despite the unfolding situation, South Africa continues to export to the EU, though uncertainties loom, especially regarding citrus sector standards. Wandile Sihlobo, chief economist at the Agricultural Business Chamber of South Africa (Agbiz), acknowledges the distant but relevant impact of EU protests on South Africa, noting the EU's recent agreement to reassess environmental policies under the "Farm to Fork Strategy."


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