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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

Palm oil

Updated 45 minutes ago

The headline should not be confused with the slang that abbreviates the phrase “oil someone’s palm”, which means to derive a favourable outcome based on providing a monetary incentive; in other... 

Drumming up protection

14th June 2024

I do appreciate that the Government Gazette is not the favoured reading material for many, and its detractors might equate reading it to reading a telephone directory, which someone actually did.... 

The R1 crude refinery

7th June 2024

A token sum, also known as peppercorn, is a symbolic but important part of a contract showing that ‘some consideration’ has been paid. The amount is not important, as long as it shows that... 

Fiscal transparency scorecard

31st May 2024

On May 8, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) released its High-Level Summary Technical Assistance Report on South Africa’s Fiscal Transparency Evaluation (FTE) in response to the National... 

Don’t’ be . . .

24th May 2024

In my piece last week, titled ‘Numbing dumping’, you were offered recipes for ‘A Good, Easy Garlic Chicken’ and French fries. The relevance of the recipes was that antidumping duties have been... 

Numbing dumping

17th May 2024

Do you by any chance have a recipe for ‘A Good, Easy Garlic Chicken’ and one for French fries? According to, you simply sprinkle the chicken with garlic powder, onion powder and... 

Intellectual Property Day

10th May 2024

What were you doing on April 26? Anything nice? Anything memorable? This is the day that is observed yearly as World Intellectual Property Day. It was on this day in 1970 that the convention... 

Calling a spade

3rd May 2024

An alternative headline I had for this week's instalment of this column was ‘Wing it’ but I decided against it, as I am perilously close to exceeding my yearly quota on that topic. What choice, and... 

The Marrakesh pearl

26th April 2024

Where were you 30 years ago, on Friday, April 15, 1994? By the way, if you have been holding on to your old 1994 calendar, you will be able to reuse it in 2033. This is based on the assumption that... 

Manufacturing support

19th April 2024

The Department of Trade, Industry, and Competition (dtic) on April 4 released an information notice extending an invitation to submit a substantiated application for its Manufacturing Support... 

Get CBAM ready

12th April 2024


Reflections on the next HS

5th April 2024

Of the three cornerstones in the movement of goods – be they in their final, semi-processed or component forms – across a national border, which is the one for which you need to have access to... 

Nuisance tariffs

29th March 2024

A nuisance is a minor inconvenience, an annoyance or, quite simply, a bother. A tariff, in the context of this column, is a rate of customs duty. So, what does a nuisance tariff? For this, one... 

Eat, sleep, fish – repeat

22nd March 2024

What does ‘go fish’ mean to you? Could it be your laconic reply to a question where your full answer might well have been: “No, I do not have it, keep guessing, but leave me alone”?" Or does it... 

Bach, Bach, Bach!

15th March 2024

It has been a full 147 days since I last wrote about Gallus Domesticus. But then, who is counting? For context, or a refresher, you might want to reread two past instalments of this column. The... 

Excise duty hikes a given

8th March 2024

How many fingers do you have? A hint, when pointing your finger at someone else, you have three pointing back at you, as the adage goes. Want to reconsider your answer once you have finished... 

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... 

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