Hello world, it’s Stryker the Cat, your favourite furry tire industry insider. Did you know that South Africa exports around 2 million tires per year to our neighbouring countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region? Historically, at least since 1994, one of the highest portions of that number has gone to Mozambique, one of our closest trading partners.
The South Africa-Mozambique Tire Trade Under the Microscope
Over the past decade, this number has fluctuated considerably, however, for a variety of reasons. This market spotlight offers a brief overview of South Africa’s trade in tires with Mozambique.
A Net Decrease
According to Trading Economics, South Africa’s exports of tires to Mozambique amounted to US$13 million in 2009. On the whole, this figure increased annually, reaching an impressive maximum of US$27 million in 2014. From that point, however, it progressively declined for the next two years, reaching its lowest level of around US$8 million in 2016. It has risen slowly since then, reaching US$10.48 million in 2018. Even though the 2018 figure is much higher than the worrying 2016 figures, it is still much lower than the 2014 zenith. This has been a matter of concern for tire manufacturers in South Africa and the causes for this net drop are difficult to pinpoint.
A Major New Competitor
At least part of the answer can be seen in Trading Economics’ numbers relating to Mozambique’s imports of tires from the People’s Republic of China. Here the overall trend is almost the exact opposite of the South African chart. In 2009, Mozambique imported only about US$4 million worth of tires from China. By 2018, this had increased to US$19 million. Although between 2009 and 2014, imports from South Africa and China both increased – albeit at different rates – from 2014 onwards, South Africa’s share of the tire market decreased as China’s increased.
South African manufacturers make an exceptionally high-quality tire that is well suited to southern African road conditions. Although Chinese tires are not tailored to local conditions and are not as hardwearing, they are more somewhat more affordable and this has fuelled their massive influx into the Mozambican market.
South Africa: Leading in Tire Quality
South African tire manufacturers work hard to compete for market share with our neighbour to the northeast and the gradual increase since 2016 is an indication that, despite China’s high level of competition on the basis of price, tire buyers within Mozambique still recognise the superior quality of South African tires and continue to purchase them despite the higher costs. South African tires simply offer better value for money as a result of manufacturers’ homegrown understanding of local travel conditions and better materials.