Let’s Talk Exports: Strong governance needed to recover from recession

Let’s Talk Exports: Strong governance needed to recover from recession

The Eastern Cape economy is in recession after contracting for the third consecutive quarter, with unemployment hovering at 42%. This is a concerning trend, given the province’s enormous potential.

General manufacturing is a significant part of the provincial economy, primarily driven by the automotive sector, the largest manufacturing sector in the Eastern Cape. The province hosts four of the seven Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) operating in South Africa and up to 100 major component manufacturers. Nelson Mandela Bay alone accounts for 45% of local vehicle production and provides 51% of South Africa’s vehicle exports, with over 100 000 vehicles shipped annually through the Port of Port Elizabeth.

The Eastern Cape is also the country’s second-largest citrus-producing province after Limpopo, contributing 25% of the province’s GDP with 24 508 hectares under production. The Eastern Cape is the fifth-largest exporter of lemons in the world and produces soft citrus fruits such as mandarins, oranges, and grapefruit. Additionally, the province hosts the largest percentage of the country’s livestock, producing 30% of the country’s milk, 36% of its wool, and 75% of its mohair, with 70% of the mohair exported to Italy and China.

While the province boasts a wealth of skills, products, and opportunities, there is a significant misalignment between opportunity and productivity. The three main contributors to the negative growth—mining, construction, and manufacturing—raise the big question: why?

The new MEC for Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism faces a challenging task. An economy cannot develop if the rail and road infrastructure is not maintained and if our ports are not operating at world class efficiency levels. Corruption in tender and procurement processes must be investigated and eliminated.

Road maintenance, fixing traffic lights, prosecuting cable thieves, and replacing streetlights are crucial for safety and functionality. In addition, poor road markings and dilapidated overhead signage pose significant safety risks and hinder tourism prospects. This highlights the need for provincial government and local municipalities to collaborate effectively to promote growth.

To combat unemployment, the provincial government should expedite infrastructure projects, such as building roads and railways. Fortunately, the N2 Wild Coast Road construction project, which has faced numerous delays, is now progressing. However, for substantial growth to occur, the Eastern Cape government needs to revamp itself and foster an environment conducive to investment and tourism. Without these changes, growth will remain sluggish despite the available opportunities.

The Exporters Eastern Cape, which represents most major sectors in the province, continues to work closely with all structures facilitating collaboration and investment and promoting exports. We commend the two business chambers for facilitating business in the province. The Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber is aggressively working to create an enabling environment for business in Nelson Mandela Bay. These efforts are essential, but government cooperation is crucial to retain and grow future investments.

Quintin Levey, Exporters Eastern Cape Chairman

The Herald – Let’s Talk Exports – Published July 2024

Eastern Cape seeks to exploit ‘Untapped Potential’

Eastern Cape seeks to exploit ‘Untapped Potential’

East London – With the aim of driving inclusive economic growth, the Eastern Cape Province will host its 6th Eastern Cape Export Symposium on August 21 and 22 at the East London ICC.

The initiative, which includes a two-day conference, exhibition and match-making meetings, is expected to draw the participation of numerous global trade representatives and the country’s export trade fraternity.

ECDC CEO Ayanda Wakaba said the symposium was aimed at developing new markets and partnerships for trade, citing “untapped potential for exports from the Eastern Cape”.

The Eastern Cape region boasts significant contributions to various industries, such as being a global leader in Mohair production, a major hub for automotive production, and a prominent player in the global citrus market.

“Despite these accomplishments, we believe that there is untapped potential for agricultural production and other exports in the Eastern Cape, along with promising opportunities for importing goods from across Africa,” Wakaba said.

Under the theme “Think Eastern Cape: Think Opportunities”, the Eastern Cape Export Symposium and Exhibition has the overarching objective of promoting trade and supply networks, facilitating access to markets, resources, and the latest research.

“The symposium offers valuable resources, in-depth analysis, and networking opportunities that hold significance for the entire South African export community and serves as a magnet for participants from various parts of South Africa as well as international buyers and policymakers, but small and medium-sized enterprises, play a key role.’’

“In order to elevate the volumes of exports from the region and take advantage of the untapped opportunities, particularly in agriculture, small and medium businesses have a vital role to play and this is also essential for inclusive and sustainable economic growth,’’ Wakaba said.

More than 70 distinguished speakers, including leading trade specialists from various sectors such as automotive, agriculture, renewable energy/environmental products, and natural fibers (including hemp and cannabis), along with regional and national trade policy-makers, will unpack opportunities in these sectors over two days, largely in panel discussion format.

The second major focus of the conference, drawing over 200 delegates, is cutting-edge, in-depth analysis of developments and opportunity presented by South Africa’s international trade agreements, including an enlarged BRICS, AGOA, EU and trading under AfCFTA.

Sixty organisations, both exporters and export development agencies will physically exhibit at the symposium. Exhibitors will represent several of the Eastern Cape’s priority sectors,  including but not limited to automotive, agro-processing and products and services related to the circular economy and renewables.

Speaking at the 5th annual Eastern Cape Export Symposium, in East London (17+18 August, 2023) AfCFTA Secretary General Wamkele Mene said the Eastern Cape province’s geographic location on the southern African coastline predisposed it to “significant opportunity.”

Mene, who was raised in the Kwanobuhle township in Kariega (formerly Uitenhage) in the region – also home to Volkswagen Africa, stressed the importance of the Eastern Cape developing a strategy around its place in the game-changing market presented by 1.3bn people and a GDP of 3.4 trillion dollars – which by the turn of the century is estimated at 16.2 trillion dollars.

“Eastern Cape, renowned for its automotive industry, involving the production of motor vehicles and parts, and a strong and varied agricultural sector, can significantly contribute to the development of the AfCFTA regional value chains in these two priority sectors,’’ Mene said.

Delegates also heard statistics, from over 50 speakers, over two days, indicating that Eastern Cape, the country’s biggest citrus producer, exports more than half of light vehicles produced in South Africa, has the largest percentage of the country’s livestock, produces more than 15 million kilograms of wool a year and supplies more than half of the world’s mohair.

Aspen Pharma Group Executive Stavros Nicolaou provided analysis around South Africa’s role and opportunity in BRICs with the pharmaceutical market in China presenting the company, which has plants in both Gqeberha and East London, with “significant opportunity.”

“BRICs presents opportunities that we need to latch onto and while we are facing economic headwinds as a country, the capabilities of our businesses give me a lot of confidence around success in the BRIC markets.’’

The Eastern Cape Export Symposium and Exhibition is scheduled to take place on 21-22 August 2024 at the ELICC in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. The event is organized by the Eastern Cape Development Corporation, the Trade & Investment Promotion Agency of the Eastern Cape government.

Let’s Talk Exports: Strong governance needed to recover from recession

Let’s Talk Exports: The export path of a single organic orange from the Eastern Cape

The export path of one organic orange picked from the bountiful orchards of the Sundays River Valley to a chilled glass of orange juice served in a European restaurant or home kitchen, is an intricate path of logistics, processing, and quality assurance.

South Africa remains the second-largest citrus exporter globally, after Spain. A particular well-established citrus market is Europe, which had been importing South African fruit for more than 100 years.

One of Exporters Eastern Cape member companies, SOGA Organic, shared some insights into the “path of one Sundays River orange” as their busy export season commenced.

SOGA Organic Marketing Manager Lize Garrod said the citrus season in South Africa typically runs from April to September.

“Currently all NFC juice volumes (around 2,000 Metric Ton per annum) are contracted and exported to our existing buyers in Europe and Canada,” said Garrod.

But what exactly is NFC juice? To understand the popular citrus export product, we need to go back to the Sundays River Valley orchards.

Sundays Organic Growers Association (SOGA) was formed in 2005, when a group of organic citrus farmers got together to cooperate in research, packing, logistics and marketing to grow and supply superior citrus to customers around the world.

“Currently all SOGA’s fresh produce including lemons, oranges, ruby grapefruit and mandarin are sold to existing markets in Europe and Canada, with Sundays River Citrus Company (SRCC) handling the fresh fruit packing and marketing.”

“SOGA Organic, our own certified organic citrus juice processing plant, was founded in 2012. Fresh fruit not meeting strict export standards is sent to SOGA Organic where we only process fruit from the four SOGA growers to ensure the highest quality and integrity of all our products. We produce and export Not-from-concentrate (NFC) citrus juice to Europe and Canada.”

The typical path of one orange

Fresh fruit from the four SOGA farms in the Sundays River Valley are delivered to SOGA Organic in Kirkwood for juice processing using their JBT juicing machines.

NFC juice is made by juicing the fruit, flash pasteurising it and then freezing it, to lock in all its natural goodness. The water in the juice is from the fruit itself, with nothing else added.

“The drums we use for packaging are high quality 210 litre (200kg) galvanised steel drums. The juice is placed inside two (double layered) 90- and 60-micron plastic bags in the drum and frozen to -18°C ready for shipping. All packaged juice is stored at SOGA Organic and transported to the harbour directly from SOGA Organic,” said Garrod.

The wholesale NFC Juice is transported to the Nelson Mandela Bay harbours with Reefer containers at -18°C.

“From the Ports of PE and Ngqura our wholesale NFC Citrus Juice is exported and shipped to Toronto, Canada, and Rotterdam, Europe (for buyers from The Netherlands and Germany), as well as Gioia Tauro, Sicily.”

In addition to these export markets, SOGA Organic also supplies the South African market with certified organic citrus juice products. In December 2015 SOGA Organic launched their first two frozen orange juice products in a handful of stores.

“Subsequently the company has added a new product every year and SOGA Organic products are now available in over 500 outlets nationwide, including selected national retailers.”

Although SOGA Organic has done a trial order with a wholesale juice buyer in Canada, most of the SOGA Organic retail products are currently only available in South Africa.

Quintin Levey, Exporters Eastern Cape Chairman

The Herald – Let’s Talk Exports – Published June 2024



The Exporter of the Year Awards 2024 is a prestigious event that recognises and celebrates outstanding achievements in exporting. The awards ceremony will take place on October 11, 2024, in Port Elizabeth and is open to companies of all sizes and industries.


This year, companies can enter a range of categories that acknowledge excellence in various aspects of exporting. The categories include:

  • SJM Flex Environmental Award: Recognising companies that have made significant contributions to environmental sustainability.
  • SJM Flex Environmental Practice Award: Honouring companies that have implemented innovative environmental practices.
  • IDC Job Creation Award: Awarding companies that have created significant employment opportunities.
  • Best Provider of Services to Exporters: This award recognises service providers that have significantly impacted the exporting industry.
  • Emerging Exporter Award: Encouraging and supporting new entrants in the exporting industry.
  • Best Exporter: Small Business, Medium Enterprises, Corporate Category, and OEM: Acknowledging excellence in exporting across various business sizes and industries.

The Overall Exporter of the Year for 2024 will be selected from the category winners and will be recognised as the crème de la crème of exporters.

Emerging Exporter Award

The winner of the Emerging Exporter Award will not only receive recognition but also participate in a thrilling ‘Dragon’s Den’ with guest “dragons”. This is an exciting opportunity for new entrants to showcase their products or services and receive valuable feedback from industry experts.

How to Enter

The closing date for entries is July 19, 2024. To enter, sponsor or attend the event, contact:

  • Suzanne Loubser, Exporters EC Branch Manager, at info@exportersec.co.za
  • Quintin Levey, Exporters Chairman, at quintin.levey@kpmg.co.za

Visit the Exporters EC website at https://www.exportersec.co.za/ for more information and to download the entry forms. Companies can also contact the Exporters EC directly for assistance with the entry process.

Why Enter

Entering the Exporter of the Year Awards 2024 offers numerous benefits, including:

  • Recognition as a leading exporter/service provider in your industry
  • Increased brand awareness and reputation
  • Networking opportunities with industry peers and experts
  • Access to valuable feedback and insights from industry experts
  • A chance to win a prestigious award and be recognised as the Overall Exporter of the Year

Don’t miss this opportunity to showcase your company’s exporting excellence and achievements. Enter the Exporter of the Year Awards 2024 today!




Are you looking for a unique opportunity to showcase your brand and support the export industry in the Eastern Cape? Look no further! Exporters Eastern Cape is offering various sponsorship options for the 2024 Exporter of the Year Awards, taking place on October 11, 2024.

About Exporters Eastern Cape

Exporters Eastern Cape is a non-profit organisation that aims to promote and support the export industry in the region. Our membership represents a diverse range of professionals from large and small export companies, freight forwarders, financial institutions, and shipping lines.

The Exporter of the Year Awards

The Exporter of the Year Awards is our flagship event, attracting almost 400 guests, including business and export leaders. The awards recognise and honour exporters and service providers who have excelled in the industry. This year marks the 29th anniversary of the awards, and we need your support to continue celebrating the success stories of our exporters.

Sponsorship Opportunities

We offer various sponsorship categories, each with exclusive benefits:

  • Platinum Sponsor
  • Gold Sponsor
  • Silver Sponsor
  • Bronze Sponsor
  • Category Sponsor

Benefits include:

  • Brand exposure through our website, social media, and event marketing materials
  • Complimentary tickets to the awards banquet
  • Opportunity to network with industry leaders and exporters
  • Recognition during the awards ceremony
  • Exposure through our member companies’ internal newsletters and social media channels

Join Us in Celebrating Export Excellence

Don’t miss this opportunity to support the export industry and showcase your brand. Complete the sponsorship form and send it to Suzanne Loubser at info@exportersec.co.za by June 28, 2024.

Contact us for more information on how you can become a sponsor of the 2024 Exporter of the Year Awards. Let’s celebrate export excellence together!

Stellantis chosen to participate in the first ever Bay of Opportunity Showcase

Stellantis chosen to participate in the first ever Bay of Opportunity Showcase

Nelson Mandela Bay is home to most of South Africa’s automotive manufacturing and almost all the component sector and it is here where Stellantis intends building its R3-billion state-of-the art automotive assembly plant later this year.

“The project,” said Stellantis SA Managing Director Mike Whitfield, “underlines the importance Stellantis places on Nelson Mandela Bay as an automotive manufacturing hub and a gateway for the company to build vehicles for export into the rest of Africa and the Middle East.”

The investment, he told the assembled local leaders and captains of industry, underscored Stellantis’s philosophy of the circular economy; investing in the areas in which it operates, creating jobs and stimulating the local economy.”

The building of the plant is part of Stellantis’s Dare Forward 2030 strategy to produce a million units a year, with 70% localisation and achieve 22% market share in Middle East and Africa by 20230, in tandem with the existing Stellantis manufacturing operations in North Africa: in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt.

Construction is scheduled to being very shortly, Whitfield said, following the finalisation of the Joint Venture agreement between Stellantis and South Africa’s Industrial Development Corporation, which will be a 49% shareholder. The ground for the 32,5ha site is being provided by the Coega Development Corporation, which has completed the removal and rehoming of all flora and fauna in terms of the environmental impact assessment report.

Construction is expected to be completed by the end of 2025, with production of the PEUGEOT Landtrek 1-ton pick-up scheduled to start in Q1 2026. The plant will directly employ 1 000 people and have an initial production target of 50 000 vehicles per year, but this will be scalable, said Whitfield, to a potential 90 000 vehicles per year, with the majority destined for export.

“But this plant will be so much more than a physical building producing vehicles, it will be a testament to the enabling environment that government and agencies like the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition, the Industrial Development Corporation and the Coega Development Corporation have created.

“Investment in the automotive industry is a long-term process and there can be no investment of any nature without a legislative environment that ensures the playing fields are levelled, the interests of investors are protected and a roadmap that guides all stakeholders,” he said.

PHOTO CAPTION BELOW: L-R – Themba Khoza (Action CEO, CDC), Mike Whitfield (MD Stellantis), Gary van Niekerk (Executive Mayor Nelson Mandela Bay), Desmond Fenner (Plant Project Manager Stellantis), Kobus Sauer (Industrial Specialist – Automotive, IDC)