The Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies, has arrived from an official visit to Switzerland where he was deepening bilateral economic relations between the two countries.
Davies held bilateral talks with his Swiss counterpart, Federal Councillor Johan N Schneider-Ammann; addressed the Swissmem Industry Day; met with the SwissCham Southern Africa and potential investors.
Minister Davies's message to the Swiss Government and business people is that Africa is the next growth frontier. However, he stressed that to realise this, Africa needs to prioritise industrialisation and regional economic diversification.
During the bilateral meeting with his counterpart Schneider-Ammann, Minister Davies indicated that the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment policy is being refocused towards the development of enterprises as well as skills development. According to the minister, this will contribute towards the national objective of reducing unemployment, particularly among the youth and creating opportunities for black-owned enterprises to grow. Federal Councillor Schneider-Ammann welcomed the refocused B-BBEE policy.
Davies said that Switzerland is the key partner for investment in South Africa.
"The country ranks as the seventh-largest foreign direct investor to South Africa. Since 2003, Switzerland has invested in about 30 projects in South Africa, with direct investment volume estimated at R17 billion over the period 2003-2012. Switzerland's investment projects in South Africa are distributed across a broad range of industrial sectors, including financial services, metals, industrial machinery, equipments and tools, food and tobacco, pharmaceuticals, plastics and software and IT services. In addition, it created an estimated 13 204 jobs in South Africa," added Davies.
The President of SwissCham Southern Africa, Georg C Umbright, welcomed South Africa’s US$2 billion contribution to the International Monetary Fund 'firewall'.
Umbright said now is the time that the world realises to what extent it has to invest because there is no other way to stabilise the world economy than completely including South Africa.
"The world needs Africa for sure in the next 10 to 20 years. We can’t do without Africa and the main motor of Southern Africa is South Africa. We are glad that Minister Davies has such a strategic view of how to develop trade among the countries of SADC and also on the larger scale. We are very confident that there will be more industries coming into South Africa because of the programmes that are put in place."
South Africa's exports to Switzerland show an upward trend over the five-year period ending in 2011, with the exception of 2010.
Before visiting Switzerland, Minister Davies visited the United States, where he signed a new Trade and Investment Framework Agreement aimed at deepening the bilateral economic relationship (WTD, 6/18/12). The new pact updates an earlier TIFA signed in 1999.
Sidwell Medupe-Departmental Spokesperson
Tel: (012) 394 1650
Mobile: 079 492 1774
Issued by: The Department of Trade and Industry
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