How China’s new privacy laws will impact businesses in South Africa

​​South African businesses with links to China need to be aware of the country’s recently-passed Personal Information Protection Law (PIPL), which comes into force in November 2021, says law firm Webber Wentzel.

South African Revenue Service statistics show that China is South Africa’s leading trading partner. In July 2021, imports from China to South Africa accounted for the majority of the country’s imports (19.4%), while exports to China from South Africa accounted for most of South Africa’s exports (12.6%).

In addition, Chinese investment into the South African economy has been steadily increasing over the years. Chinese organisations have injected funds into South Africa’s critical economic sectors such as energy and electricity and other infrastructure development initiatives.

“The relationship between the two countries is likely to be further strengthened in the immediate future following the China-South Africa Trade and Investment Roundtable, which took place in China in July 2021,” said Webber Wentzel.

“China’s laws and regulations are of significance to South African organisations that do business with organisations in and from China.”

Of particular importance is a new privacy law passed in China, entitled the “Personal Information Protection Law” (PIPL), the firm said.

“The PIPL will come into force on 1 November 2021. In many respects, the PIPL is similar to the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation and South Africa’s Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA). However, the PIPL contains some unique features.

“South African organisations that fall within the categories described below will need to consider the PIPL.”

It outlined some of the critical considerations that South African businesses should be aware of below.

“South African organisations that engage in trade relations with China or form part of a Chinese group of companies or have other business ties with China should be mindful of the compliance requirements contained in the PIPL, in light of the impending 1 November 2021 compliance deadline,” Webber Wentzel said.

  • Commentary by Peter Grealy (partner) and Cindy Leibowitz (knowledge lawyer) from Webber Wentzel, and Alex Roberts from Linklaters (Shanghai)

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How China’s new privacy laws will impact businesses in South Africa