Did you know that the South African Rooibos industry employs around 4 500 people and began exporting tea in 1904, that more than 70% of its exports are destined for European Union (EU) member States and that it is a firm favourite in France?
This is the third instalment of this column this year that deals with Rooibos – I also wrote on Honeybush.
In the Government Gazette of July 12, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies, in terms of the Merchandise Marks Act, 1941, gave notice that the South African Rooibos Council (SARC) had conveyed a request for the prohibition on the use of the words ‘Rooibos’, ‘Red Bush’, ‘Rooibostee’, ‘Roobos tea’ (later confirmed to be ‘Rooibos tea’), ‘Rooitee’ and ‘Rooibosch’. The Government Gazette of August 16 featured a notice pertaining to the prohibition of the use of the words ‘Honeybush’, ‘Heuningbos’, ‘Honeybush tea’ and ‘Heuningbos tee’, and the deadline for comment was September 16.
In a notice in the Government Gazette of September 6, the Minister of Trade and Industry, in terms of the Merchandise Marks Act, published the final prohibition on the use of the following words: ‘Rooibos’, ‘Red bush’, ‘Rooibostee’, ‘Rooibos tea’, ‘Rooitee’ and ‘Rooibosch’ in connection with any trade, business, profession or occupation or in connection with a trademark, mark or trade description applied to goods, other than by SARC members or any other party in accordance with the Rules of Use for Rooibos, published as an annexure to the notice. The notice mentions that proprietors or prior identical or similar marks already in use will not be affected by this prohibition.
According to the annexure (The labelling of Rooiboos and the Rules of Use of Rooiboos), the name Rooibos can only be used to refer to the dry product, infusion or extract that is 100% pure rooibos – derived from Aspalathus linearis – and that has been cultivated or wild- harvested in the geographic area described in the application.
Rooibos may be blended with teas, infusions and other products, whether or not for human consumption. The labelling of such products must conform with the rules applicable to the labelling of products in the territory where the product is marketed.
As a guideline, the following are considered by the SARC as compatible with use of the name Rooibos: that, to carry the product designation ‘Rooibos’, the final product must contain 100% Aspalathus linearis or at least adhere to the statutory standard, or if it is a Rooibos-blended tea or infusion, Rooibos can be used as the main descriptor (“Rooibos <<other product>>”), provided that Rooibos is the main ingredient, the extract percentages appear on the label/packaging and the final product must still be recognisable as Rooibos, as characterised in the description of the product. Further, if the product is a blended tea or infusion, it can be called “<<other product>> and Rooibos blend” as descriptor only if it contains Rooibos and on conditions that Rooibos provides a distinctive character to the product, the exact percentage of the Rooibos content appears on the label/packaging and the product with the highest percentage appears first on the label. Rooibos-flavoured tea or infusions with liquid flavourants (‘flavoured Rooibos’) can be called “Rooibos <<liquid flavour- ant>>” on conditions that Rooibos is the main ingredient (after water), the exact percentage of Rooibos content appears on the label/packaging, the final product must still be recognisable as Rooibos, as characterised in the description of the product. Following guidance from the SARC, other products (for instance, extracts, soaps, cream, yoghourts and liquor, besides others) may be called “Rooibos <<other product>>” only if they contain Rooibos and on condition that ‘Rooibos’ (or ‘Aspalathus linearis’) appears on the list of ingredients and it can be proved that Rooibos adds to the characteristics of the product.
Bulk Wine Draft Rule Amendment
On September 3, the South African Revenue Service (Sars) published the draft Rules to the Customs and Excise Act for the proposed insertion of Rule 35.06 to provide for the removal of, and placing certain restrictions on the removal of, wine in bulk by a licensee of a customs and excise warehouse or special customs and excise warehouse in which wine is manufactured in terms of sections 35 and 64 of the Act respectively.
The proposed rule reads: “35.06(a) A licensee of a customs and excise warehouse or special customs and excise warehouse in which wine is manufactured may only remove, or permit the removal, of wine in bulk – (i) to the licensee of another such warehouse; (ii) to the licensee of a special customs and excise storage warehouse licensed for the storage of wine for export; or (iii) for direct export from that warehouse. (b) For the purposes of paragraph (a),’wine in bulk’ means wine not in normal packaging for sale by retail.”
Comment was due by September 18.
Frozen Potato Chips – Safeguard Amendment
On September 6, Sars published an amendment to the provisional payment imposed on July 5 (for tariff subheading 2004.10.90) to reflect a new tariff subheading (2004.10.20) for frozen potato chips or French fries with retrospective effect from August 16.
Tariff Application Correction
On September 6, the International Trade Administration Commission of South Africa (Itac) published a correction notice (the original notice was published on August 23), amending the tariff sub- heading for heat-exchange units from tariff subheading 8419.40 to 8419.50.
Comments are due by October 4.
Sacu Tariff Board Tender
The Southern African Customs Union (Sacu) has published a tender for an expert assessment of the current architecture and modus operandi for establishing and operationalising member States’ national bodies and the Sacu Tariff Board. The tender closes on September 24 at 11:00 (Namibian time).