Imports and exports as an opportunity for survival

What was initially a 21-day lockdown, which businesses could plan around, has become an open-ended obstacle for many non-essential products and services; leaving SMMEs nervous about what the long-term impact on their companies will be.

As a means of survival, import and export offers much more opportunity than trading exclusively within South Africa’s injured economy. Consider these five measures you can take to not only survive the pandemic as a South African business, but also create additional streams of income to improve your financial position and the national economy as the world recovers.

1. Include essentials in your product offering

Although the import, export and sales of most non-essential commodities will depend on the risk level we find ourselves in at any given time, the government’s list of essential goods will see unwavering demand. A straightforward solution which would not only keep your company afloat, but also aid the rest of South Africa in recovering from the crisis is to import goods that are deemed as essential.

These include:


• Any food product, including non-alcoholic beverages

• Animal food

• Chemicals, packaging and ancillary products used in the production of any food product

Cleaning and Hygiene Products:

• Toilet Paper, sanitary pads, sanitary tampons, condoms

• Hand sanitizer, disinfectants, soap, alcohol for industrial use, household cleaning products,

and personal protective equipment

• Chemicals, packaging and ancillary products used in the production of any of the above

Medical necessities:

• Medical and hospital Supplies, equipment and personal protective equipment

• Chemicals, packaging and ancillary products used in the production of any of the above


• Including coal and gas

Do note, any South African person or entity importing or exporting more than three times per year or over R50,000 in value must be registered with SARS customs. Don’t worry if you’re not registered as an importer or exporter yet. Customs registrations for traders intending to import essential goods are getting expedited.

Click here to get your import export registration without leaving home.

2. Import critical goods duty free

Besides the list of essential goods above, the SA government has published a list of critical goods to provide relief in times of disaster which can be viewed here.

For importers in possession of a specific rebate permit, shipments comprising of these goods are exempt from incurring both import duty tax and VAT. Once in possession of this permit imports of critical necessities can keep your cashflow going during the crises whilst being sold to consumers at a lower price.

Click here to apply for the required permit.

3. Get trade funding assistance

Connecting with lenders who are keen to finance international trade transactions by assisting with cash flow or a credit guarantee while your goods are getting shipped will provide some financial relief, especially during the early phases of starting an import export venture.

Assessments to see if you qualify are free and rates are dependent on risk. Best of all, funding can be locked down in only 1 to 4 weeks.

Click here to get started with your assessment.

4. Establish yourself online

Although the COVID-19 crises and mandated social distancing will not last forever, its effect on how we interact with the world will.

The pandemic has caused online trading to go from a recommended option to an established necessity and primary source of business in both retail and service industries. In short, now is the time to go digital – and quickly.

Click here to launch an online business fast.

5. Be open to new business opportunities

The world we find ourselves in now, as well as what will remain after COVID-19 has subsided, is new and uncharted. To ride this wave businesses need to be flexible, innovative and quick to jump on new opportunities as they arise. SMME’s have the upper hand here in that they can more easily adapt to delivering a new range of products and a revised marketing message than large corporations.

Small business owners should train themselves to constantly be looking for needs among consumers and opportunities to address these needs as a means of expanding their current service or product offering.

Do so by:

1. Browsing international online markets for innovative products,

2. Ordering and importing samples required to test the product, and

3. Doing market research to ensure the concept has potential.

Whether your company is already thriving or just getting started, Import Export License is here to help with the admin so you can focus where it matters – on taking your business offering to the next level.

ImportExportLicense are specialists in customs registration - permits, business services and international freight and courier services.

For more information, contact:


Tel: 0861 0 TRADE (87233)

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