Thank you very much, Deputy Speaker. I will try to respond to three statements. First of all, I want to indicate to the UDM that we have taken the issue of BEE fronting very seriously. There was a draft Bill which was out for public comment. That public comment period is now over. We are just finalising a few aspects of that Bill. It should be in the House fairly shortly.
Secondly, on the hon Koornhof's statement, I want to say that we do not necessarily share all aspects of your analysis of the crisis in Europe, but the reality of the crisis in Europe is very evident and is having an impact on our trade relations. There is no country in the European Union with which our trade recovered last year to the level it was in 2008. Germany was the closest, where our total trade was R128 billion in 2008, and total trade was only R120 billion last year, 2011. In the most distressed countries in Europe our trade even declined last year. That is the reality; a fact of life that we have to come to terms with.
We are actually identifying trade diversification as a fundamental imperative. We are working hard on the regional integration programme on the African continent because that is our solid base. African industrialisation, diversification and infrastructure are very fundamental to all of that. We are also trying to strengthen our trade relations with fellow Bric countries - Brazil, Russia, India and China - and particularly to promote value-added trade. We are also looking at other dynamic economies around the world in the Gulf Co-operation Council, GCC countries, for example, Indonesia, among others.
I think that among the challenges that we find is that quite often government is ahead of the game. We open the door. We go to all these places, we establish a framework and we have to then try to get our businesspeople to move ahead with us as well. I did say in our Budget Vote debate that I would be happy to have a much deeper conversation about this in the portfolio committee, because I do think that this is a matter of fundamental national interest.
The hon James, on the food price rises and the insecurity that this is creating, of course we agree with that. We also agree very much with the aspect of fighting any kind of collusion that takes place in ensuring a competitive environment. I should just draw the attention of the House to the fact that one of the most robust findings of the competition authorities was on the bread price collusion issue. The commitment to continue that is very much there.
When he talked about new food retailers and simplifying imports, I am not quite sure that we would necessarily have a further unpacking to see where he is coming from. But our approach is that what we fundamentally need to promote food production is a production response. We need to be producing more food out of the ground, and do more agro-processing. The task that we are engaged in is trying to promote more production of foodstuffs and, in particular, agro-processing.
A few years ago, when South Africa, for once, had a deficit in food, it was not owing to the crops on the ground but to agro-processing products. We are doing quite a lot of work to try to stimulate agro-processing industries in this country. We have had some success as we have had some fairly significant investments in the past few years. Thank you. [Applause.]