Agribusiness, food and beverage
Regulatory
Telecommunications, media and technology
Infrastructure


This article provides a comprehensive review of key competition, trade and investment updates in South Africa.

Agribusiness, food and beverage

Fresh produce market inquiry launched
In March 2023, the South African Competition Commission (SACC) launched the Fresh Produce Market Inquiry (FPMI). The FPMI will examine whether any features in the fresh produce value chain impede, restrict, or distort competition in the market. It will focus on:

  • particular issues in each layer of the value chain, including the sale of fresh produce by farmers to their customers (retailers, processors, or export markets);
  • five fruits, including;
    • apples;
    • citrus;
    • bananas;
    • pears; and
    • table grapes; and
  • six vegetables, including:
    • potatoes;
    • onions;
    • carrots;
    • cabbages;
    • tomatoes; and
    • spinach.

All the relevant documents for the FPMI are available on the SACC's website here.

Competition Commission concerned about food price increases
In its latest Essential Food Price Monitoring Report, the SACC said that South African consumers had, over a two year period, faced unjustified price increases in sunflower oil, white and brown bread, and opportunistic price increases in maize meal. The SACC's latest report, available here, also focuses on the poultry value chain. The SACC has undertaken to closely probe and monitor the prices of these goods. Experts have criticised the report for a lack of analysis.

Regulatory

In February 2023, the SACC published Guidelines on the Exchange of Competitively-Sensitive Information between Competitors. This follows requests from various stakeholders, such as industry associations, to clarify what permissible information exchange is. The guidelines are intended to assist firms, trade associations and other stakeholders by detailing the type of information exchange that the SACC would regard as harmful to competition and when information exchange would improve efficiency. The guidelines can be accessed on the SACC's website here.

Telecommunications, media and technology

In March 2023, the SACC published draft Terms of Reference (ToRs) for a market inquiry into the distribution of media content on digital platforms, the Media and Digital Platforms Market Inquiry (MDPMI). The MDPMI is based on the SACC's view that there may exist market features in digital platforms distributing news media content that may impede, distort or restrict competition and could have adverse implications for South Africa's news media sector. This imbalance could have implications for fair payment for content and the sustainability of independent journalism. Written submissions on the draft ToRs were due on 20 April 2023.

The Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition has granted an extension until 19 May 2023 for the completion of the Draft Regulations relating to appeals arising from market inquiries before the Competition Tribunal in terms of section 43F and Draft Regulations relating to a divestiture recommendation by the Commission in terms of section 43D (2) of the Competition Act 89 of 1998 as amended for public comment.

Infrastructure

In April 2023, the SACC launched the Steel Market Inquiry (SMI) and published draft terms of reference for comment. The SMI will examine whether any features in the South African steel industry impede, restrict, or distort competition in the market. The SMI will be confined to only two levels of the steel value chain, namely:

  • the raw materials and inputs; and
  • the upstream steel production level.

In addition, the inquiry will focus on the impact of these levels of the value chain on the domestic downstream steel market.

For further information on this topic please contact Elisha Bhugwandeen, Burton Phillips or Yael Shafrir at Webber Wentzel by telephone (+27 11 5305 000) or email ([email protected], [email protected] or [email protected]). The Webber Wentzel website can be accessed at www.webberwentzel.com.