SOUTH AFRICA – South Africa’s wine industry has received green light to export its products during the lockdown period following “intensive lobbying” by a task team of exporters.

Last week the industry’s exporter task team submitted plans to the government urging a lifting of the effective export ban at least by April 17 when the current lockdown was initially slated to end.

The new changes in regulations have been signed off by Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula and published in the Government Gazette on 7 April.

As reported by Fin24, the new regulations stipulate that wine may be exported as agricultural cargo and can be moved to sea ports and international airports.

“During the lockdown period, the transportation of the wines and any other fresh produce products at the sea ports and international Airports Designated as Port of Entry for export is allowed,” the notice reads.

In this light Vinpro, which represents some 2,500 wine producers and industry stakeholders said, “The South African wine industry is truly grateful to government… for showing an understanding for the industry’s challenges through this concession.”

The industry, which exports nearly half of its production and employs around 300,000 across the value-chain, had won an earlier concession when it was allowed to complete harvesting and processing to prevent wastage during the 21-day lockdown.

Workers in the wine industry have now been allowed to return to work, provided they respect rules on travel limitations, social distancing and the use of sanitisers.

Export of fresh produce, mainly fruit, will also resume following the relaxation of the lockdown rules.

Vinpro had said that if the ban remained in place by April 17, it could entail, conservatively, a loss of direct export revenue amounting to more than 650 million rand (US$36 million), free-on-board value.

The wine harvest started in January and the local industry got ready to go and showcase what it has to offer at the largest wine show in the world – ProWein in Germany in March. The event was, however, cancelled due the spreading of the coronavirus pandemic.