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Ecommerce and Lockdown Level 4

SA moved to Level 4 on 1 May. This allows a limited opening up of the economy. Government has set up Committees to draft the rules and EFSA is representing the ecommerce sector. For information, clarification or questions from next week on please visit our website or email me ([email protected]).

The principle we are working on is the level playing field – what can be sold/supplied offline can be sold/supplied online. We will be restructuring our website to provide information on the rules. EFSA also sent two letters to Ministers during April. The first called for the opening up of all online sales and also pointed out that the ministerial decree allowing the collection of all goods from ports of entry was not being applied by all officials on the ground – some were turning lorries back from ports and air terminals. The Trade and Industry Minister, Mr Patel, replied in a statement to the press in which he said that allowing online sales of non-essential goods would be anti-competitive and (bizarrely) that it would increase the spread of the virus. His initial approach has been outdated by the move to Level 4 on 1 May. The second letter from EFSA called for all e-shops to be able to fulfill orders received from abroad. We learnt from the UNCTAD Ecommerce Week (see below) that SA is one of a very small number of countries which forbids the fulfilment of orders from abroad. In a number of countries governments have actively encouraged ecommerce during lockdown. Our e-shops selling abroad are therefore at a serious disadvantage to their competitors elsewhere. In a recent study, Nielsen has shown that consumers are moving their shopping online (

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Alastair Tempest

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