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Support to export-ready firms by sector

Check here to learn if your business and products are included in our five broad priority sectors of high-potential commodities.

Our priority sectors:

Trade Forward Southern Africa (TFSA) has identified five broad priority sectors to be the focus of export-driven sector development for high-potential commodities. An assessment of the export profiles of the SACU+M countries (Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa) guided the selection of these sectors, using a set of criteria developed specifically to determine the potential for export growth, and the opportunities for unlocking export market barriers, promoting women’s inclusion and effecting systemic change. In addition, the assessment explored the sectors to identify high-potential value chain commodities. Of the five sectors and commodity value chains identified:

  • All exhibit a strong commercial base with significant presence of export-ready companies that require technical assistance to grow exports.
  • Three are traditionally women dominated and, as such, are expected to have greater impact on women’s inclusion in the overall export trade in the region. The two sectors that are largely male dominated (aquaculture and green technology) present an opportunity to challenge traditional gender norms and increase the visibility and participation of women in these innovative and rapidly growing sectors.
  • All revealed regional synergies with common interests and commodities shared by countries across the region.
SectorBotswanaEswatiniLesothoMozambiqueNamibiaSouth Africa
AquacultureTilapiaAbalone, oysterAbalone, oyster
Condiments & High Value Speciality FoodsGourmet jam, iced tea, biltong, sauce, mopane treat, hand crafted chocolate, Marula productsJam, fruit jelly, marmalade, puree and paste, pineapple and citrus – prepared or preserved
Cosmetics & Natural Ingredients used in CosmeticsMarula and moringa oils, cosmetics using local natural ingredientsRosehipNatural ingredients (Kalahari melon, devil’s claw, moringa, nara, mongongo), cosmetics using local natural ingredientsNatural ingredients (aloe vera, baobab, moringa, mongongo), cosmetics
Fruits, Nuts and VegetablesCitrus, stone fruit, bananaBerry, pea, apple, peach, legume (bean)Pigeon pea, cow pea, kidney bean, sesame, cashew, minor/speciality productsRaisin, dried fruit, macadamia, stone fruit, citrus, avocado, processed fruit
Green TechnologyLight manufacturing in renewable energy

Typical constraints and barriers that hamper export trade

The most common constraints faced by companies wishing to start, or expand, their export trade to Southern Africa and beyond include:

  • Navigating, and accessing information to, the necessary steps, processes and logistics involved in exporting, as well as in identifying potential target export markets.
  • Ensuring compliance with, often complex, regulations and standards of export markets that vary across sector and countries/regions. In some cases, COVID-19 has resulted in revised regulations, which present further challenges.
  • Locally available testing and certification practices do not always meet international standards. Similarly, access to packaging and labelling that meet regulations, in particular for food and cosmetics, is a challenge for many companies.
  • Ensuring correct classification – in particular for cosmetics and condiments where ingredients can also be classified as pharmaceutical products – is key in relation to understanding import tariffs but can be difficult to navigate.
  • Poorly defined, or complete lack of, sector-wide product definitions and strategies hamper the effective branding of certain product groups.
  • Smaller businesses in particular lack sufficient access to information on the various public and private initiatives and resources countries have in place to support export growth.
  • For women entrepreneurs and business leaders, socio-cultural issues remain a major barrier for them to participate fully in export trade.

Our support and solutions to addressing constraints

TFSA recognise that business support organisations (BSOs) have a vital role to play in ensuring that companies can build their technical capacity, increase their ability to unlock barriers to trade and benefit from existing export opportunities. The skills building and export tips and guides we provide are targeted at, and implemented in collaboration with, carefully selected industry BSOs in the public and private sectors, including those that work specifically to further women’s opportunities in trade. To this end, the following wide-ranging areas have been identified as solutions to address key constraints:

  • Leveraging existing training programmes to provide tailored, sector-specific and export-focused training and skills building, with a particular focus on facilitating women-specific support to respond to the particular needs of women entrepreneurs and business leaders.
  • Working through BSOs, facilitate and strengthen B2B market linkages between SACU+M suppliers and buyers in target regional and international markets.
  • Developing tools and resources that help businesses and compliance institutions better understand and put in place the appropriate measures to meet compliance requirements.
  • Facilitating access to existing national and regional resources or initiatives supporting export growth.

How to stay informed

  • Follow us on our social media platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter) and keep visiting our Trade and Information Hub for regular updates on sector initiatives.
  • Sign up for and read our TFSA Digests for current and sector-specific information and opportunities.
  • Our Women in Trade section will keep our women entrepreneurs informed on news, tips and ideas, and upcoming events specifically tailored at increasing their participation across all sectors.