9 December 2016
Policy and legislation

The Chancellor of the Exchequer of the United Kingdom, the Rt. Hon Philip Hammond, this week visited South Africa as part of a tour through Africa and Asia to scout for new market opportunities and trade relations as Britain prepares to leave the European Union. The trip began on Wednesday in South Africa, with Hammond meeting officials at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, as well as the South African Minister of Finance, Minister Pravin Gordhan. In the evening he met with business representatives, including with the CEO of Agbiz, Dr John Purchase. The Chancellor emphasized that Britain was open for business and would pursue open and mutually beneficial trade relationships, and that Brexit was not a trade protectionist move. South Africa is the continent's biggest buyer of British goods, but the UK is also a significant importer of especially South African fruit and wine. In addition a number of South African companies have extensive business operations in the UK. He further emphasized the changing global environment and the role that new technologies would have on the business environment. Agbiz has already engaged with the British High Commission on the impact that Brexit would potentially have on future trade relations between the UK and South Africa, and follow up talks will commence early in 2017.

On the 8th of December 2016, the Competition Commission conducted a search and seizure operation at the premises of five companies involved in the manufacture and distribution of refined edible oils, baking fats and margarine in South Africa. The companies operate in Gauteng and Kwazulu-Natal provinces. The Commission has reasonable grounds to suspect that Wilmar Continental Edible Oils and Fats (Pty) Ltd, DH Brothers Industries (Pty) Ltd t/a Willowton Oil and Cake Mills, FR Waring Holdings (Pty) Ltd, Africa Sun Oil Refineries (Pty) Ltd and Epic Foods (Pty) Ltd have engaged in cartel conduct which includes price-fixing in the market for the manufacture and distribution of refined edible oils, including baking fats and margarine. The alleged conduct is believed to have started before 2007 and is still on-going. The search and seizure operation is conducted as part of an ongoing investigation which was initiated by the Commissioner to determine whether these companies have contravened the Competition Act. Please click on media release to peruse full statement by the Competition Commission.
Economic and agribusiness intelligence

Recent Gross Domestic Product (GDP) data shows that South Africa's agricultural sector remains in recession. These results come as no surprise as the sector continues to suffer the effects of the 2015/16 El Niño induced drought. Overall, the significant shock came from summer crops, particularly grains and oilseeds.   Agbiz economist, Wandile Sihlobo provides more information in the linked document»  

The country's economy grew slower than expected in the third quarter, dampening hopes of a recovery anytime soon.   Agbiz economist, Wandile Sihlobo explains more in the linked SABC news interview that was broadcast on Tuesday.  

Embracing diversity in agricultural policy making is critical. The need to recognise and promote it should be embedded throughout the sector's value chain. That needs to start at the top, with policy makers engaging women and the youth directly in their policy discussions and plans for the sector's future, writes   Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz Economist in the Business Day column.  Read the full column here»
Daily view on commodity markets

Daily commentaries on agricultural commodity markets and macro-economic trends are available on the Agbiz website  www.agbiz.co.za
Agbiz Grain
ARC hosts seminar on pulses

As part of the International Year of Pulses (IYP2016), the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) held a one-day seminar on pulses under the theme "Advancing Pulses Research and Development Policy for Sustainable Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Security". Mariana Purnell of Agbiz Grain attended the seminar which attracted multiple stakeholders from the private and public sectors, civil society, international development partners, research, universities to deliberate on the economics and policy as well as research and development issues towards the advancement of pulses production and consumption in South Africa. Speakers included researchers, farmers and policy makers from the ARC, International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), University of Limpopo and Tshwane University of Technology. Of particular interest was the linked review of the current situation in South Africa by Chris Kleingeld, General Manager of the Dry Bean Producers Organisation. 
Members' news
Absa launches its 2017 agricultural outlook
Earlier this week Absa Agribusiness launched its forecast for the agricultural industry for 2017.   The outlook is linked here»
Old Mutual celebrated two significant green environment milestones last week. The celebrations, at its Mutualpark head office in Pinelands, Cape Town, honoured the unveiling of its innovative solar installation and awarding of the 5-star Green Star SA Existing Building Performance rating. Speaking at the handover of the Green Star SA certification and the official opening of the Mutualpark solar project, Rose Keanly, Chief Operating Officer of Old Mutual Emerging Markets, said that the certification and solar installation underscore Old Mutual's commitment to making a positive impact on broader socio-economic and environmental issues in the country.   Media release»
Industry news
Fertasa members receive code of conduct compliance certificates
The Fertiliser Association of Southern Africa (Fertasa) launched its rigorous Code of Conduct scheme in 2014. Companies that take part in this scheme open their operations to an independent evaluation process, which ensures integrity in product safety, biosecurity and manufacturing quality processes. Four Fertasa members were recently awarded Code of Conduct Compliance certificates at the association's management committee meeting - they are Dfert, Kimleigh, NWK and Profert.   Media release»
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