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At the start of World War 2 SA was a net importer, with the bulk of its import needs coming from the “mother country” in a matrix of global production, deeply interwoven with the colonial project.

Goods imported from the “empire” (later the Commonwealth) were exempted from the general tariffs that applied to manufactured and semi-manufactured goods, and this “imperial preference” ensured the value and composition of the UK’s export basket benefited from its access to raw materials in the colonies, and its manufacturing base in the UK...

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