The export-led strategy underpinning SA’s trade policy entails a deliberate effort to get the country’s agriculture and other industrial sectors to export products beyond existing international markets. There are at least two diametrically opposing views about how well SA has done in executing this strategy in agriculture.

The first is that SA has not done enough to open up new markets, limiting the country’s scope to grow exports further. This view is widely shared by private-sector agricultural role players that have struggled to penetrate and grow market share in countries such as China, India and Saudi Arabia. They argue that in the recent past, the growth in SA’s agricultural exports in these key markets has primarily been driven by productivity gains that have established a big enough competitive advantage that overcomes high-tariff and non-tariff barriers...

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