A new study released yesterday showed that South Africa grew its exports of pulp and cereals by more than double during the first half of 2020 at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. Photo: File
A new study released yesterday showed that South Africa grew its exports of pulp and cereals by more than double during the first half of 2020 at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. Photo: File

Responsive SA companies doubled exports of pulp and cereals

By Siphelele Dludla Time of article published Apr 7, 2021

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JOHANNESBURG - A NEW study released yesterday showed that South Africa grew its exports of pulp and cereals by more than double during the first half of 2020 at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The global study, Trade in Transition, showed that South Africa’s exports of pulp – the raw material for toilet paper – and cereal increased by 163 percent and 113 percent year-on-year, respectively, in the first half of 2020.

These export increases by South African companies were part of nearly 32 percent of firms that expanded international sales in the first half of 2020, according to multinational logistics firm DP World.

The study was commissioned by DP World and conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit among 3 800 senior executives across six regions of the world.

It showed that the unprecedented nature of the Covid-19 pandemic and government policies to mitigate its impacts called for a greater degree of responsiveness from companies engaging in international trade.

As a result, the total value of merchandise exports from South Africa declined by $4.16 billion (R60.7bn) to $85bn in 2020, down from $89bn in 2019.

DP World said businesses in Africa were creating agile supply chains to respond to market changes precipitated by the lockdown restrictions.

It said African companies might find opportunities for supplier diversification within the region since the new trade agreement came into force earlier this year.

In Africa, the highest share of respondents indicated that a logistics shock had the greatest negative impact on international sales.

Despite the challenges, businesses in Africa demonstrated a degree of resilience.

For respondents in Africa, diversifying their supplier base was among the top two factors expected to determine international trade transactions up to 2025.

The study also revealed that 38 percent of companies in Africa believed that it would take less than a year for global trade to recover to pre-pandemic levels.

It showed that international trade flows had not declined as dramatically as expected, with particular sectors that helped to support international trade during the pandemic.

DP World chief executive Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem said international trade had shown remarkable resilience during the pandemic and would play a critical role in facilitating the global recovery.

“The supply chain challenges exposed by the pandemic have acted as a positive agent for change,” he said. “We expect the result will be global flows of trade that are more efficient.”

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