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

By Riaan de Lange

Paltry graft loot recovery

1st March 2024

Corruption is defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as “illegal, bad or dishonest behaviour, especially by people in positions of power”. Wikipedia describes it as “a form of dishonesty or a criminal... 

And the actual?

23rd February 2024

‘Actual’ means to exist in fact – in other words, to be real. There are not many occasions, during the course of the year, when I despair at having to write a piece for this column. The State of... 

You’ll be back?

16th February 2024

This is is not a guarantee that The Terminator, aka Arnold Schwarzenegger, will be back. You might recall that “I'll be back” is a catchphrase associated with Mr S (I’m cognisant of my character... 

HS exploratory study

9th February 2024

The World Customs Organisation (WCO) on January 18, announced the publication of the public version of its ‘Interim Report on the Exploratory Study on a Possible Strategic Review of the Harmonised... 

Transfer pricing adjustments

2nd February 2024

On January 19, the South African Revenue Service (Sars) released its proposed draft amendments to the rules of the Customs and Excise Act, 1964, which take into account the effects of transfer... 

Make a difference

26th January 2024

Want to make a difference? Well, if you are still looking to fill your New Year’s resolution list, this might be for you. Should you require a bit of motivation, or a tagline to support your quest... 

A new tax dawn?

19th January 2024

Ever heard of the acronym OEEC? It stands for Organisation for European Economic Cooperation. Does it ring a bell? Well, what about OECD, the acronym for Organisation for Economic Cooperation and... 

Sheikhs on a plane

15th December 2023

Why do bad movies linger in one’s mind? In two words, the answer is 'negative bias', and in three it’s 'positive-negative asymmetry'. According to the researcher Randy Larsen, negative events and... 

I owe, I owe: JET

8th December 2023

So, a partnership no more? To provide context, the National Treasury’s November 21 media statement is titled ‘Bilateral loan agreements with the World Bank, Germany’s Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau... 

Nothing new in Customs

1st December 2023

My mother constantly reminds me that there is nothing new under the sun. When, as a small boy, she first told me this, I was very sceptical, reasoning that there had been no motor vehicles before... 

Traveller management system

24th November 2023

  “Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and caldron bubble…” If you need reminding, these are the opening verses of the song of the three witches in William Shakespeare’s Macbeth. What, you... 

Customs and port authorities

17th November 2023

One of the most intriguing aspects of life, for me, is the origin of words. In the customs and international trade environment, in particular, words are used mostly devoid of their meaning. This is... 

Sacu’s fifth report card

10th November 2023

A trade policy review, or TPR, is a review mandated in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Agreements, in terms of which its member countries’ trade and related policies are examined and evaluated... 

A step forward?

3rd November 2023

Does Africa’s proposed enhancement of trade efficiency and promotion of economic growth in the Tripartite Free Trade Area – comprising the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, (Comesa),... 

Is white chocolate a chocolate?

27th October 2023

Is there such a thing as white chocolate? I remember, while growing up, my grandmother, who owned a roadhouse and a café, telling me that there was no such thing. She told me that white chocolate... 


20th October 2023

What word best rhymes with ‘chicken’? it's ‘sicken’, of course. How appropriate then that this piece is about a ‘sicken’ chicken. Let me apologise in advance if I am sickening you with all the... 

Tyre import rumblings

13th October 2023

In the Government Gazette of September 29, the International Trade Administration Commission of South Africa (Itac) extended an invitation for comment, by October 13, on the proposed introduction... 

Mirrors and dumping duties

6th October 2023

Mirror, mirror against the wall, which country has had an investigation for the extension of an antidumping duty launched against it? “Well, the People’s Republic of China, of course”, the mirror... 

A natural disaster

29th September 2023

Alas, this article is not about the state of the South African economy; if it was, it would have been titled a ‘national disaster’. Instead, it focuses on the customs treatment of natural... 

VAT revamp

22nd September 2023

Earlier this month, the South African Revenue Service (Sars) published its ‘Discussion Paper on Value-Added Tax (VAT) Modernisation’, and those who wish to submit comments should do so by October... 

In knead of help

15th September 2023

Why did the person sell yeast? To raise some dough. Well, in the case of Anchor Yeast (this year’s centurion) it appears that it might well not be raising enough dough, prompting it to approach... 

Reflections on expanded BRICS

8th September 2023

Please – ‘b’, a consonant – ‘r’, a vowel - ‘i’, a consonant – ‘c’, a vowel – ‘s’, a vowel – 'i’, a consonant – ‘s’, a vowel – ‘u’, a vowel – ‘e’, a vowel – ‘a’, and a vowel – ‘e’, which displays as... 

BRICS rank and file

1st September 2023

On August 22, the BRICS circus rolled into town – into Johannesburg, to be exact – and was set to remain there for three days. Why the city, named after two surveyors, Johann Friedrich Bernhard... 


25th August 2023

I wanted to have ‘Lights, camera, action’ as the headline of this article but then it dawned on me that there is hardly any electricity to power the lights; its supply is intermittent at best. As... 

Fowl play

18th August 2023

How time flies! As I sat down to write this piece, it was the first day of August. The date may not be of significance to you, but this will largely depend on whether you have been counting down... 

Metal export restrictions

11th August 2023

For many years, I have spent Friday afternoons ‘eagerly’ scrutinising the Government Gazette. I contend that most of the gazettes are published simply for landfill and recycling purposes, as they... 

Signed languages

4th August 2023

South Africa now has a twelfth official language, following the historic signing of the  Sign Language Bill into law by President Cyril Mamaphosa on July 19. South Africa is  the fourth African... 


28th July 2023

Exactly 701 days! That’s the time that remained, at the time of writing, before the expiry of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa), the legislation introduced on May 18, 2000, to assist... 

Frozen in time

21st July 2023

Exactly 1 589 days previously at the time of writing, the International Trade Administration Commission of South Africa (Itac) had published in the Government Gazette – on February 22, 2019 – its... 

ATA Carnet turns 60

14th July 2023

On June 22, the World Customs Organisation (WCO) joined the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in celebrating the sixtieth anniversary of its ATA Carnet at the thirteenth World Chambers... 

Flickering economic growth

7th July 2023

On June 15, the Africa department of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) released a note titled ‘South Africa's Economy Loses Momentum Amid Record Power Cuts’. It evoked the words a former... 


30th June 2023

Inflare is Latin for ‘to blow into’ or ‘inflate’. No prize for guessing the word from which inflation is derived, but can you guess where, when and why the word came into being? The US would have... 


23rd June 2023

There is an age-old rhyming Russian proverb, “doveryay, no proveryay”, which became hugely  popular in English in the 1980s as “trust but verify”. This was  after Suzanne Massie, a scholar of... 

Another bad report card

16th June 2023

I wrote piece on June 6, which was reminiscent of the days gone by when your teacher gave you your school report in a sealed envelope addressed to you parents. Back then, you had the power to delay... 

Sounds like a melody

9th June 2023

What if government policies were like a musician’s song catalogue? You would expect the songs that made it on to the album to be the musician’s best efforts. They would have to be even more so if... 

Standardising ‘nationality’

2nd June 2023

I recall a time when, as a much younger me, I was in absolute awe of centenary celebrations. It was a time when neither anyone known to me nor the possessions that my family owned had turned 100... 

Let us . . .

26th May 2023

Let us do what? How about “Let’s grow South Africa together”? If you need reminding, this was the title of the governing party’s 2019 election manifesto. I recalled it when I saw government’s... 

Brothers in arms?

19th May 2023

Are the World Customs Organisation’s (WCO’s) Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC) and the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO’s) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) brothers in arms or combatants? They seem... 

Citrus fruit dispute sequel

12th May 2023

It’s said there are seven foods that have led to war and that civilisation is a mere 24 hours and two meals away from barbarism. It probably depends on your definition of barbarism, as we might... 

Logistics Performance Index

5th May 2023

On April 20, the World Bank released its ‘2023 Logistics Performance Index (LPI) Report’, subtitled ‘Resilience and Reliability are Crucial in the Performance of Logistics’. The Bretton Woods... 

Enabling fair trade

28th April 2023

Assuming you are reading this piece on its date of publication, in 34 days’ time, the International Trade Administration Commission of South Africa (Itac) will be celebrating its twentieth year of... 

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