Hon House Chairperson, the DA welcomes the Economic Partnership Agreement between the Southern African Customs Union and Mozambique, Sacum, with United Kingdom, UK. It is incumbent upon the South African government to ensure that where such opportunities arise, we make full use of them. The Sacum, Economic Partnership Agreement, EPA, is largely a continuation of the SADC, EU, EPA that allows for normalised trade relations and a replacement legal framework as the UK seeks to exit the EU.
Moreover, our total trade with the UK amounts to R101,02 billion and this is crucial considering the fact that the UK is our fourth largest trade destination and accounts for R57,07 billion in exports. In terms of our trade basket, platinum, fresh fruit and motor cars
account for our largest exports. However, our trade in fresh fruit in particular citrus fruit has come under increasing strain due to phytosanitary standards put in place under the SADC, EU, EPA.
It is worth mentioning that this impact around citrus fruit stems from the fungal disease called Citrus Black Spot, CBS, and has been around since 1992. The EU is of the belief that the South African citrus fruit is the carrier of CBS despite scientific studies having disproven this. Furthermore, it is well documented that the EU climate is unsuitable for the reproduction of CBS. Therefore, it can only be reasonably assumed that the CBS argument has been used as a nontariff barrier alongside agricultural subsidies provided to farmers in the EU.
According to the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy Institute, the citrus industry saddled with the cost of R1,86 billion in additional inputs in order to comply with CBS protocols. Surely, this cost is unsustainable and this money could be put to better by expanding citrus production in South Africa, thus creating more jobs and contributing towards the expansion of our country's
agricultural sector. The opportunity to negotiate new terms and regulations lies with respect to citrus exports.
Additional opportunities exist within the beef and poultry industries and the Sacum, EPA should be used a means to unlock these opportunities in order to expand our export basket. Trade is a two way street and it is important that the Department of Trade and Industry and government at large gets its house in order. This requires a commitment by government, to ensure that property rights are protected, interdepartmental cooperation with the phytosanitary standards are maintained and the terms of existing trade agreements are not contravened. For example, the Copyrights Amendment Bill which speaks to a fair use principle has put up participation in the generalised system of preferences and severe risks by virtue of the fact that it allows for free use of copyrighted content.
The United States of America has now begun a full blown review of our participation which could wipe out R12 billion in trade and cost thousands of jobs. In
addition, private property rights as enshrined in Section
25 of the Constitution need to be protected. We cannot allow for government's failure to deliver on land reformation to be used as an excuse to undermine a fundamental element of the market based economic system. As long as these conditions are met, Minister Patel will enjoy the support of the DA in his efforts to boost trade and grow the economy.
The Springboks now have affected their own version of Brexit on Saturday at the Rugby World Cup Final. This is not indicative of our long standing political and trading relationship. The DA looks forward to deepening and strengthening our trade relationship with the UK and will continue to support measures taken to achieve this. I thank you.