What sectors are best for South Africans exporting to other markets?
Almost any sector can compete in international markets, certainly on quality and often in technical innovation, but it’s always important for companies to do their homework first on prevailing conditions, competitive products, prices, import duties and so on in the country they have identified for export before they rush in.
How do local manufacturers benefit from exporting their goods?
An international profile is always a good thing for any company and for the country. We love seeing Made in SA products on shelves and in industrial applications overseas. Obviously, the opportunity to earn in hard currency — exchange fluctuations notwithstanding, is another benefit. The more diversified your markets, the better placed any company is if any one market should take a dip, so spreading the markets in which you are operating and selling is another.
What are the potential dangers business owners should be aware of if they’re interested in exporting their goods?
There is always the danger that without proper ground work, it can be an expensive exercise if the export project fails. Local agents, distributors and third parties can also prove difficult and expensive, so it’s important to source reliable local representation, if you need it. Translation of all packaging to the local language can be expensive and adherence to different local norms and standards must always be adhered to, and could push up the price of your product if you pass these costs on to the customer. Sales and after-sales service is something that also needs to be managed well.
What government-funded programmes are available to assist entrepreneurs access new markets?
There are a number of programmes of the dti, including Trade & Investment South Africa and the Export Marketing & Investment Assistance Scheme (EMIA). South African embassies around the world have trade attachés who are there to help and are a critical point of contact for any exporter.