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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

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... 

Where did it originate?

By: Riaan de Lange     15th February 2019 Have you ever attended a a rock concert that celebrated a single album FROM a single band? To be clear: the music tracks of a singular album, with no bonus tracks. Yes, there is such an album and such a concert. Just before Christmas, I attended just that. In an era of music streaming, which,... 

Establish the value of your imports

By: Riaan de Lange     8th February 2019 Eighteen years ago to the day, on February 2, 2001, this column appeared in print for the very first time. That particular Friday must have been a slow news day in South Africa. South African History Online’s 'This day in history' offers no entry on this day. Nothing. This is most disappointing,... 

Shrinkflation

By: Riaan de Lange     1st February 2019 Isn’t it curious how, daily, we see and hear words, without really seeing and hearing the words, with the meaning and definition of the words, rightly or wrongly, set and formalised in our minds. We no longer even give the words a second thought or even a second glance. In addition to not paying... 

Reflections on the Harmonised System

By: Riaan de Lange     25th January 2019 It is ‘harmonized' with a 'z', and not an 's', as it is 'organization' with a 'z', and not an 's'. But I am getting a bit ahead of myself – well, with the organization, that is. In last week’s instament of this column, I alluded to the three things that any business involved in international... 

And so it begins

By: Riaan de Lange     18th January 2019 The title of this piece is a phrase used by King Théoden, South African-born JRR Tolkien's fictional character in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, just before the major battle at Helms Deep, as depicted in the movie The Two Towers. And here we are at the start of 2019, mulling South Africa’s own... 

Only time will tell

By: Riaan de Lange     14th December 2018 At first glance, Ibiwisi appears to be a word from one of South Africa’s many indigenous languages – but, alas, it is not. The origin of the word itself is a mystery, which on the present-day reflection simply means that its origin even stumped Google. Ibiwisi is actually an acronym for 'I'll... 

All money is a matter of belief

By: Riaan de Lange     7th December 2018 If you have a few pounds to spare (that is, British pounds, the currency), will have some time to spare on December 12, would be in London on that day and have an interest in economics or philosophy, then you are in for a treat. On offer is a book, but not just any book. It is not the age of the... 

The revised Kyoto Convention

By: Martin Zhuwakinyu     30th November 2018 How familiar are you with the Kyoto Convention, which must not to be confused with the Kyoto Protocol? The full name of the latter is the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. It came into 'full force' on February 16, 2005, and is intended to reduce how the... 

With great power comes great responsibility

By: Riaan de Lange     23rd November 2018 The words in the headline are attributable to Uncle Ben, Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben. And you might know Peter Parker who you might know better as Spiderman. This iconic phrase, however, was not spoken by Uncle Ben, but appears in a narrative caption of Marvels’ Amazing Fantasy #15: “. . . with... 

The more things change . . .

By: Riaan de Lange     16th November 2018 As the age-old adage goes, the more things change, the more they remain the same. What this means is that turbulent changes do not affect reality on a deeper level and serve to cement the status quo. If anything, there is arguably no more a succinct adage of what has become to personify present... 

Investment – counting the chickens

By: Riaan de Lange     9th November 2018 It is not too difficult to get carried away by one’s emotions. Only minutes before I sat down to write this article, my beloved Sharks had beaten Western Province in the Currie Cup final. That said, I quite possibly have not done their sponsors any service, by not prefixing their names. Truth be... 

Enterprise Europe Network

By: Riaan de Lange     2nd November 2018 With all the nonsense packaged as news that you are subjected to – or, more correctly, bombarded with – on a daily basis, it is quite easy for you to get sucked in and to then not see the forest for the trees. You might be more familiar with the British adage, not see the wood for the trees,... 

Nontariff barriers in Africa

By: Riaan de Lange     26th October 2018 Is it not strange how quickly we get accustomed to terminology that rolls off our tongues and finds its way into our writings and yet we do not even know its true meaning? The term 'nontariff barriers' (NTBs) arguably falls into this category. What are NTBs, which the United Nations Conference on... 

Irregular expenditure

By: Riaan de Lange     19th October 2018 Take a moment to reflect on the phrase 'irregular expenditure'. What thoughts does it evoke? Anything? These two words, I wager, have been rendered devoid of their impact, owing to excessive use. 

I’m from govt and I’m here to help

By: Riaan de Lange     12th October 2018 The words in the headline are considered to be the most terrifying in the English language. This is not my assessment, but that of the gentleman who famously uttered them, Ronald Wilson Reagan, the fourtieth President of the US. If you are old enough, you might well recall a time when companies’... 

Economic stimulus and recovery plan

By: Riaan de Lange     5th October 2018 It is said that there are only three kinds of people in the world: those who can count and those who cannot. The stimulus and recovery plan has sevral broad parts: implementation of growth-enhancing economic reforms, reprioritisation of public spending to support job creation, the establishment... 

SA economy flying by the seats of its pants

By: Riaan de Lange     28th September 2018 It is said that bad news comes in threes. If only South Africa was that fortunate – the country exhausted its quota a long time ago, and hardly a week goes by without bad news about the performance of the South African economy. The news is either a reflection on what has happened or what is... 

Technically, stuck in a recession

By: Riaan de Lange     21st September 2018 “Is you is or is you ain't?”, to partially borrow from the title of American blues musician BB King’s song. Is South Africa in a recession or ain’t it? It is a simple enough question that should solicit a 'yes' or 'no' answer, ain’t? Surely, if one knows what a recession is, then one should know... 

Do your part to remedy SA’s ills

By: Riaan de Lange     14th September 2018 “People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.” These humorous words tend to be attributable to Winnie-the-Pooh. But I am afraid these were not Pooh’s words, and neither were they the author AA. Milne, who wrote of Winnie-the-Pooh in 1926. It is in fact, the words of Theodor... 

Heigh-ho silver lining 

By: Riaan de Lange     7th September 2018 They say every silver lining has a cloud or every cloud has a silver lining? Which of the phrases do you prefer? Surely, it depends on whether you are of the glass-half-full or glass-half-empty persuasion. Your perference may also depend on the topic under consideration. With this in mind, it... 

Reflecting on sugar customs duty increase

By: Riaan de Lange     31st August 2018 So, will the increase in the variable formula tariff (VFT) on sugar – or the 'honey without bees', as Alexander the Great called it – mitigate the harshness of international trade or be the saccharine protection that the Southern African Customs Union (Sacu) producers desire it to be? Growing up... 

Bailout or bail out?

By: Riaan de Lange     24th August 2018 One word or two? So, which is the correct option for South Africa’s State-owned enterprises (SOEs)? Hint: a bailout is the act of giving financial assistance to a failing business or economy to save it from collapse, while to bail out is to abandon a position or situation. As I contemplated what... 

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