The international competitiveness of South African agricultural exports relative to those of Argentina and Australia is considered. Competitiveness was measured in terms of the Relative Comparative Advantage (RTA) using data from FAOSTAT 2002, while trade perspectives were examined using data from the World Trade Organisation and the Trade and Industrial Policy Strategies (TIPS) databases. The results of the RTA show that South Africa's agricultural food chains are marginally competitive internationally, whereas Argentina and Australia's agricultural food chains are internationally competitive. The analysis also shows that South Africa has managed to move up the value chain relative to Argentina and Australia. Nevertheless, competitiveness decreases in all three countries when moving from primary to processed products in the chains, which implies that value-adding opportunities are limited. Based on their competitive status, there is a potential in certain agro-food chains for supply chain integration and co-operation. Strategic alliances are important instruments for competitiveness. They create flexibility in operations, enhance technology transfer and networking and exploit possible complementary and supplementary relations between industries and organisations.