The delegation from the Pretoria Head Office visited the industry to familiarise themselves with the sugar value chain. According to DAFF officials, tours of Maidstone Mill and the Sugar Terminal proved to be their highlight as they were able to learn more about the cycle of sugar from delivery to a mill to sugar being loaded onto a vessel designed for the United States of America.
DAFF was represented by officials from three directorates, namely international trade, marketing and agro-processing. The international trade directorate deals with negotiations and implementation of international trade agreements such as the Southern African Development Community-European Union (SADC-EU) Economic Partnership Agreement and the SADC Protocol on Sugar. The marketing directorate is tasked with the marketing of South African agricultural commodities abroad and the issuing of export licenses. A key characteristic of the agro-processing directorate is its mandate to develop the up and downstream linkages of transforming raw material into final products.
South Africa is currently in the process of negotiating the Tripartite Free Trade Agreement as part of SADC, with the East African Community (EAC) and Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) and a better understanding of the sugar industry will enable the government to take well-versed decisions during the negotiations. SASA has in turn requested that sugar be excluded from the free trade agreement and rather be listed as a sensitive product in order to offer regional sugar producers better protection from world sugar imports.