We are gravely concerned about the situation in Ukraine and the impact of the Russian invasion. First and foremost, we empathise and stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and the hardship imposed on them by this unnecessary war. Significant numbers of people find themselves leaving their belongings behind and seeking refuge in neighbouring countries, with their lives severely disrupted overnight. We are also concerned about people from other countries living in Ukraine and trying to seek asylum in Poland, Hungary, and other countries, particularly news that people of colour being refused entry to such countries. We call on all countries providing asylum to do so in a manner that does not discriminate on the basis of race.
For now, the direct economic impact on SA is minimal. Our trade with Russia is negligible, making up less than 0.4% of total merchandise exports in 2021. South Africa imported goods worth R9.2 billion from Russia in 2021, less than 1% (0.7%) of total imports. Our trade linkages with Ukraine are also negligible. This is according to research by the Bureau for Economic Research, which also identifies risk for SA if the conflict continues, particularly with gas and fuel prices, and increased cost on freight movement and logistics costs, all of which will have knock on inflationary and interest rate impacts. There is also severe risk on agricultural exports. In 2020, we exported over US$245 000 000 (~R3,7 billion) worth of agricultural products, with citrus and apples & pears making up nearly 90% of those exports. In total, SA exports more than 7% of its total citrus crop to Russia, and more than 12% of its apples and pears exports.
However, we are deeply concerned that without a speedy resolution, the impact of this invasion may be considerable, with uncontrollable outcomes. At a minimum, it is causing global uncertainty just as the world is starting to recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Indeed, the potential impact of the invasion will be felt more severely by emerging markets, like SA, and could further erode confidence in such markets and make even more difficult our efforts to rebuild our economy after Covid.
The world cannot afford conflagrations and invasions of this sort. It is critical that as countries we engage on trade and other issues globally in an environment of peace and positivity, which are pre-requisites for building an inclusive and stable global economy.
Business Unity SA CEO
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