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Riaan de Lange

Riaan de Lange


This economic and trade-focused column is prepared by Riaan de Lange – riaan@tariffandtrade.co.za. The views expressed in this column are the author's personal views

Hitting SA’s economic challenges head-on

By: Riaan de Lange     15th November 2019 I write this column at a time of celebration. 32-12. Need I say no more? Capturing the English psyche on the day, the advertised prime-time programme is about that ‘unsinkable ship’ – the RMS Titanic. As this year Rugby World Cup final reminded the favourites, the sinking of the Titanic has long... 

The bobbin industry’s contribution to English

By: Riaan de Lange     8th November 2019 You may be familiar with or have used or still use the phrases ‘knock off’, ‘fast and loose’ and ‘happy hour’. What you might not know is what the three phrases have in common. A hint: they all emanate from a single source – actually, from a single industry. You might not be that familiar with... 

The real cost of graft in South Africa

By: Riaan de Lange     1st November 2019 Speaking at the Financial Times Africa Summit, in London, on October 13, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the cost of this predecessor’s decade-long rule “runs way beyond, in my view, more than R500-billion – some people have even suggested that it could be R1-trillion”. This figure of R500-billion... 

Africa’s trade bloc mirage

By: Riaan de Lange     25th October 2019 The word ‘mirage’ originates from the Latin mirari, which means to look at, to wonder at, to mirror or to admire. There are, in fact, three categories of a mirage: inferior, superior and Fata Morgana, with the last mentioned consisting of a series of unusually elaborate and vertically stacked... 

Economic recovery and transformation strategy

By: Riaan de Lange     18th October 2019 A mounting challenge facing all South Africans is not what you might might think of. The challenge facing us is that we are confronted with words and phrases that simply do not mean what we might believe them to mean. A case in point is ‘Economic Recovery and Transformation Strategy’. Is it part... 

The Presidential Economic Advisory Council

By: Riaan de Lange     11th October 2019 US satirist and mathematician Tom Lehrer is credited with saying: “The ‘new’ approach, as you know, the important thing is to understand what you are doing rather than to get to the right answer.” So, will the 18-person ‘economic brain trust’ appointed by the President on September 27 get to the... 

SA’s Brexit approach: Roll over and play dead

By: Riaan de Lange     4th October 2019 I concluded the August 30 instalment of this column, which was titled ‘Brexit – we’re not gonna take it’, with this sentence: “It is time for South Africa to step up and take the game to Britain.” I was not envisaging a ‘roll-over’. On September 11, the Department of Trade, Industry and... 

The route to perpetual inequality

By: Riaan de Lange     27th September 2019 This week I continue my trip down memory lane. I focus on that formation – economic or political, depending on your preference – that was in 2001 referenced as BRIC by then chairperson of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, Jim O'Neill, in his publication, Building Better Global Economic BRICs. The... 

Butterfly approach to trade

By: Riaan de Lange     20th September 2019 Do you recall 'the butterfly approach to trade? Do not judge yourself harshly if you don't; even the most effective of search engines does not recall. But it does recall the effect, 'the butterfly effect'. In chaos theory this effect is a theory that a butterfly flapping its wings in one part of... 

Dream on, National Treasury

By: Riaan de Lange     13th September 2019 On August 27, the National Treasury released a 59-page economic policy paper titled 'Economic Transformation, Inclusive Growth, and Competitiveness: Towards an Economic Strategy for South Africa'. It invited comment on the document by September, 15. As I scanned the contents of the document, I... 

Nationalise pensions

By: Riaan de Lange     6th September 2019 To nationalise or to prescribe? In South Africa, a case of ‘potato potato’, as the saying goes, which I appreciate, makes no sense when writing it. Although incorrect, altering it to ‘potato potahto’ brings the point across. Is it also a case of a rose by a different name smelling just as sweet?... 

Brexit – We’re not gonna take it

By: Riaan de Lange     30th August 2019 October 31 is only 76 days away – well, at the time of writing. It should be close to 62 days away as you read this piece. Although Brexit – that is, Britain exiting the European Union (EU) – is not quite the riveting news in South Africa that it is in Britain, that does not make it less... 

SA’s perpetual Zeigarnik effect

By: Riaan de Lange     23rd August 2019 “Round and round the circle / Completing the charm / So, the knot be unknotted / the cross be uncrossed / the crooked be made straight / And the curse be ended” wrote TS Eliot in his poem, Family Reunion. In case you were expecting the lines to rhyme, the poem is blank verse poetry – it consists... 

Is it seasons out of time for the SA pie?

By: Riaan de Lange     16th August 2019 It might well be a case of mixing metaphors, for which Mrs Weston, my much-revered English high school teacher of many years past, would, without a shadow of a doubt, have my guts for garters. So, I am off to a less than auspicious start. But I take solace in the words of Jim George: “It’s not... 

SOEs are growth-negative contributors to SA economy

By: Riaan de Lange     9th August 2019 Is the South African economy down on its luck, down on its knees, face down, downtrodden, or simply down and out? What is without question is that the South African economy is letting South Africans down. The word down is said to have originated from the fourteenth-century Old English word,... 

Man on the moon

By: Riaan de Lange     2nd August 2019 “My heart turns my mind into circles / As I lie here all alone in my bed / The moon shines brightly through my window / And I wonder if it's true what they say / That there’s a man... / A man on the moon / If there's a man on the moon / Can you hear me calling you / Please save me from sharing my... 

Let’s try this again, shall we?

By: Riaan de Lange     26th July 2019 The words in the headline were uttered by Agent H with an appropriate pause and desperate sigh. Agent H is the lead in Men in Black – International, the latest and fourth instalment of the MIB franchise. It is a line that encapsulates the sentiment that one develops when studying President Cyril... 

World Trade Profiles 2019

By: Riaan de Lange     19th July 2019 The opening verse of The Flying Lizards' song, Money (That's What I Want), remind us: “The best things in life are free.” But the band goes on and spoil it with “But you can give them to the birds and bees”, before breaking out in a chant that turns into a repetitive chorus: “I want money (that's... 

What SA needs to attain economic growth

By: Riaan de Lange     12th July 2019 “We cannot turn our fortunes around without a relentless focus on economic growth. Price stability is a necessary but not sufficient condition for economic growth. Our Constitution also requires that there should be regular consultation between the Reserve Bank and the Minister of Finance to... 

Sona – so, how you gonna do it?

By: Riaan de Lange     5th July 2019 When I read President Cyril Ramaphosa's State of the Nation on June 20, all 6 741 words of it, the chorus of rock group Nickelback’s song Rockstar – "So how you gonna do it?” – kept reverberating in my mind. Where to start? “As we enter this new administration, we will focus on seven priorities:... 

Let’s face it: economic disaster is looming in SA

By: Riaan de Lange     28th June 2019 “What is the cost of lies? It is not that we will mistake them for the truth. The real danger is that if we hear enough lies, then we no longer recognise the truth at all. What can we do then? What else is left but to abandon even the truth and content ourselves, instead with stories. In these... 

Thumperian Principle

By: Riaan de Lange     21st June 2019 Now tell me that the headline did not evoke the thought of Donald Trump – even though there is an ‘h’, and not an ‘r’ after the “T”. The principle in question is also known as the Thumper’s Rule. The difference between a principle and a rule is that a principle internally motivates you to do the... 

Time for Itac spring-clean and reform

By: Riaan de Lange     14th June 2019 President Cyril Ramaphosa's appointment of former Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel the Minister in charge of the new Department of Trade and Industry , which was merged with the Department of Economic Development not only with questions but provide for opportunities in respect of the... 

SA’s ‘very old’ trade remedies

By: Riaan de Lange     7th June 2019 In 2003, the International Trade Centre (ITC) published a 290-page book on trade remedies, titled Business Guide to Trade Remedies in South Africa and the Southern African Customs Union – Antidumping, Countervailing and Safeguards Legislation, Practices and Procedures. I know this, as I was its... 

South Africa Tax Freedom Day

By: Riaan de Lange     31st May 2019 May 18 was Tax Freedom Day in South Africa. Do I hear you asking why this could not be on January 1? Tax Freedom Day in 2019 did not come soon enough. If anything, it should be celebrated on the 138th day of the year - definitely not. I am reminded of the time when I lectured Economics 110 and... 

Buttress SA Employment

By: Riaan de Lange     24th May 2019 I must admit: I too had to reread the headline. If, like me, you need reminding, a buttress is an architectural exterior support or structure of masonry that is built against, or serves to support or reinforce, a wall. In essence, it serves to support a wall when it shows signs of cracking or... 

New WTO rules for ecommerce

By: Riaan de Lange     17th May 2019 The World Trade Organisation (WTO) informed on May 6 of a trade dialogue held with senior representatives of consumer organisations, during which they sent a strong message of support for the WTO and the multilateral trading system. The representatives stressed the importance of ensuring that... 

Exporting to the UK post Brexit

By: Riaan de Lange     10th May 2019 Without a shadow of a doubt, the most overused portmanteau in the world today is ‘Brexit’, derived from ‘British’ and ‘exit’. Its use evokes a range of emotions. Brexit’s origin is attributable to the June 23, 2016, British referendum in which 51.9% of voters supported the UK, including the... 

Marrakesh Agreement: 25 years on

By: Riaan de Lange     3rd May 2019 April 15, a day steeped in history. Well, you can argue that this is true of every day. What possibly makes April 15 a bit unique is that all the major events that happened on this day are general knowledge, unless you are not from this planet. On this day in 1865, US President Abraham Lincoln... 

The WCO’s fellowship programme

By: Riaan de Lange     26th April 2019 The World Customs Organisation (WCO), known as the Customs Cooperation Council until 1994, is not as well known as the World Trade Organisation (WTO). This is odd, since the WCO was founded on January 26, 1952, while the WTO founded several decades later – on January 1, 1995. Part of the reason... 

Import licensing website

By: Riaan de Lange     19th April 2019 There are multiple World Trade Organisation (WTO) agreements. The WTO oversees about 60 agreements that have the status of international legal texts. As a member of the WTO, a country must, on accession, sign and ratify all its agreements. The WTO has 164 members, which account for 98% of world... 

International trade in fake goods surges

By: Riaan de Lange     12th April 2019 You might be well acquainted with ‘fake news’. The buzzword that is. Yes, the two are considered one. It was the 2017 word of the year, no less. But, as to whether we possess the ability to identify ‘real news’ from ‘fake news’, that is quite another matter. It is said to be “one of the greatest... 

Insights into a Post Clearance Audit

By: Riaan de Lange     5th April 2019 The Revised Kyoto Convention, which is more popularly known by its acronym, RKC, and is the main trade facilitation customs convention, defines postclearance audits (PCA), or audit-based controls, as measures that customs authority rely on to satisfies themselves about the accuracy and... 

Incoterms®2020

By: Riaan de Lange     29th March 2019 Anyone involved in international is undoubtably familiar with Incoterms, the acronym for International Commercial Terms. But familiarity does not necessary imply in-depth understanding and appreciation. When respondents are pressed to name any of these, two tend to receive regular mention, namely... 

East or West, which is best?

By: Riaan de Lange     22nd March 2019 It is March 8. No, not as you read, but as I write this piece. And this bring me to the question: Do you believe in chance or luck? Do you believe in coincidence? Maybe Laura Pedersen’s assertion that “coincidence is God's way of being anonymous” is quite accurate. I ask as I pick up my copy of... 

The OECD’s work on trade

By: Riaan de Lange     15th March 2019 Adam Smith, the father of economics, famously said that that “every person lives by exchanging”. Truth be told, he he actually said ‘man’, which I have replaced with ‘person’. If Smith were with us today – he died on July 17, 1790 – he would probably say that “every person lives by trading and... 

South Africa . . . like . . . needs investment

By: Riaan de Lange     1st March 2019 There are two words that invoke the same emotion when I hear them: ‘like’ and ‘investment’. ‘Like’ is considered a filler word, also known as a pause filler or hesitation form, as it is so eloquently articulated in Fillers, Pauses and Placeholders. A filler word is an apparently meaningless word,... 

Rules of origin facilitator

By: Riaan de Lange     22nd February 2019 Talk about a powerful international trade trilogy alliance. You simply do not get a more powerful alliance than the World Customs Organisation (WCO), the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the International Trade Centre (ITC), which have banded together to develop and launch the Rules of Origin... 

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