Israeli Exporters Warned as South African Elections Approach

By Aryeh Stern

Opposition Democratic Alliance party leader John Steenhuisen waves to supporters in Pretoria, South Africa, on Feb. 17, at the party’s manifesto launch in anticipation of the general elections. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File)

Israel’s Foreign Trade Risks Insurance Corporation, Ashra, issued a cautionary notice on Thursday to exporters engaged in selling Israeli products to South Africa ahead of the upcoming elections in the country.

“The imminent elections at the end of the month may pose risks to commercial ties between the two nations, akin to the situation observed with Turkey,” the state-owned corporation cautioned. Ashra urged exporters to remain vigilant, advising them to “stay informed” and “ensure they are not overly reliant on customers in South Africa or encountering payment delays.” The corporation highlighted that its insurance service would safeguard exporters, ensuring receipt of payments even in the event of political disruptions impacting money transfers to Israel.

While Turkey recently announced temporary approval for the export of Turkish construction goods to Israel, concerns now loom over potential complications in Israeli exports to South Africa. Although Israel’s trade volume with South Africa is notably smaller compared to Turkey (annually $200 million in exports and $150 million in imports versus billions in trade with Turkey), exports are concentrated in specific sectors, including industry, chemicals, and agriculture.

Scheduled for May 29, the elections in South Africa may witness a significant weakening of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party or even its loss of power to the opposition. Recent polls suggest a scenario where the ANC may lose its parliamentary majority while remaining the largest single party, potentially leading to political instability. Ashra noted that various sources attribute South Africa’s adversarial stance toward Israel, particularly its recent lawsuit against Israel in the International Court of Justice alleging genocide in Gaza, to concerns over this political shift and an attempt to divert attention from domestic economic and social challenges.

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