President Cyril Ramaphosa says the government has introduced a number of interventions to help South African companies invest in the continent and participate in the continental free trade area in Africa.
He said this when he responded to oral questions in the National Assembly on Thursday.
“We want to ensure that our businesses, entrepreneurs, small businesses and workers benefit from the trade opportunities that will arise as the AfCFTA begins to operate.
‘The government has a number of interventions to support South Africans who want to trade and do business in other African countries.
“The empowerment of blacks, women and youth enterprises through export readiness and export capacity is at the top of this agenda,” he said.
He said, for example, that the government’s national development program for exporters supports both emerging and established exporters in order to increase the number of South African exporters and, over time, increase value-added exports.
The president said in the past financial year, 1,029 emerging exporters had completed training, of which 1,006 were black-owned, 494 owned by women and 227 in youth.
He also said that 88 women-owned businesses are being helped to promote their goods and services through various continental trade promotion and marketing opportunities.
Between 2014 and 2018, South African businesses invested more than $ 10 billion – about R160 billion – in various parts of the continent.
It told the president that South Africa had made the fifth largest source of foreign direct investment on the continent in value behind the US, France, the UK and China.
“Much remains to be done, but we strongly believe that Africans have now placed the continent on the path of sustained and strong economic growth.
‘In many ways, Africa’s colonial past has continued to shape its economic development in recent decades.
‘Just as colonial powers withdrew the continent’s wealth for their own benefit, enrichment, upliftment and development, African economies today participate in the world economy, primarily as a source of minerals and commodities, while producing higher and value-adding manufactured products take place. elsewhere. ‘
The president said that the vision of African leaders today is aimed at breaking this pattern.
“We are determined to build strong and inclusive economies through industrialization and the exploitation of the minerals and commodities extracted from the African soil in our countries.”
He said the African continental free trade area is an important development that will change trade patterns and have the potential to transform African economies.
“It will encourage economic diversification, utilization of our minerals and resources and value addition to seize the opportunities arising from an increasingly open continental market in Africa.
“We expect preferential trade in Africa to start with significant product coverage in the new year, 2021, and to expand further in the coming years.
‘Even before the agreement on the continental free trade area, South Africa had already started implementing an investment-led trade strategy.
“South Africa has sought to use its foreign direct investment in the rest of the continent to encourage balanced growth and localization.”