SA has outperformed its peers among upper middle-income countries in the World Bank’s most recent Logistics Performance index, the bank’s report on 2016 logistics data shows.

The index reflects the perceptions of countries’ logistics users and is made up of a number of sub-indices, such as for infrastructure and the efficiency of customs clearance.

Overall, the country ranked 20th out of 160 countries, up from 34th in 2014. The 2016 ranking is just below that of Australia, but above those of Italy, Norway, Spain, South Korea and Taiwan.

SA’s efficiency of customs clearance is ranked 18th, while in terms of the quality of trade and transport-related infrastructure, the country is ranked 21st. It is ranked 23rd with respect to the ease of arranging competitively priced shipments and 22nd in the quality of logistics and competence.


All top performers show strong co-operation between the public and private sectors in developing a comprehensive approach to efficient logistics
Jean-Francois Arvis
World Bank

SA’s top-performing sub-index, in which it is ranked 17th, is its ability to track and trace consignments. This reflects the country’s information and communications technology backbone. In the crucial category of reliability, SA is ranked 24th as measured against the frequency with which shipments reach consignees within the scheduled or expected time.

The World Bank considers logistic performance to be central to economic performance as it helps to lower costs to domestic consumers and improves global competitiveness.

"All top performers show strong co-operation between the public and private sectors in developing a comprehensive approach to efficient logistics," said Jean-Francois Arvis, of trade and competitiveness global practice at the World Bank.

Global trade depended on logistics, he said, and the efficiency with which countries imported and exported goods defined how they grew and competed in the global economy. Countries with efficient logistics could easily connect firms to domestic and international markets through reliable supply chains and so become part of the global supply chain network.

SA’s standing as the top performer among upper middle-income countries puts it in a position to benefit as its bulk export volumes begin to increase. The country’s maize harvest is forecast to rise by 79%, permitting an export surplus of about 3-million tonnes.

In February, it recorded an 18.6% year-on-year increase in bulk export volumes

The performance and reliability of supply chains depend on interventions ranging from trade facilitation at border posts to infrastructure and regulation. World Bank data shows logistics-and connectivity-related interventions have the highest potential to cut the cost of trade and to boost integration in global value chains.

The rest of Africa was the top regional destination for SA’s exporters in 2015 with exports worth R302.2bn. Given the rise in protectionism in developed countries, the need to improve the logistics chain in Africa has become more acute. SA’s exports to the US have dropped 29% from $9.5bn in 2011 to $6.8bn in 2016.

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