The Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies and his Deputy Gratitude Magwanishe, have arrived back in South Africa from Paris where they attended the Joint Economic Commission (JEC) between South Africa and France. The JEC was preceded by the South Africa – France Business Forum which was attended by business delegations from both countries.
Minister Davies message to the French was that time for passive shareholders is over and that Radical Economic Transformation is the way to go.
“We cannot have an economy in which ownership, control and leadership is only confined to a small section of the population. We need to broaden the base of participation in our economy, so for us black economic empowerment is imperative. What we are looking at in the model of empowerment that we have put to companies, is we are particularly focusing on empowering people to become real players in the real economy. Rather than being shareholders in somebody else`s company where they are not playing a leading role or developing their capacities,” said Minister Davies.
Our trade relations with France and the European Union (EU) are governed by the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) which came to force last year. The EPA replaces the trade chapter of the Trade Development and Cooperation Agreement (TDCA). The SADC EPA group (Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland) is now a common framework for all the members. Minister Davies highlighted that the EPA’s is also providing a way to ensure that Brexit does not disrupt our trade relations either with the United Kingdom or the EU. He emphasised that the EPA will continue to guide our trade relations with the EU after the Brexit.
Minister Davies and Deputy Minister Magwanishe also held bilateral meetings with French Minister of State for the Industry, Digital Sector and Innovation: Christophe Sirugue and Minister of State for European Affairs and International Trade: Harlem Desir. Minister Davies and Minister Sirugue delivered keynote addresses at the Business Forum which was followed by presentations and business to business interaction. The Joint Economic Commission was opened with keynote addresses by Minister Davies and Minister Desir. Minister Davies stated that trade and investment figures shows that there is an opportunity for South African businesses to increase the exports to France and for French companies increases their investment into South Africa in targeted sector.
South African exports to France increased from R6.6 billion in 2012 to R8.1 billion in 2016 showing an average growth of 7%over the mentioned period. However, South Africa has been facing a massive trade deficit between these years as imports from France increased from R20.3 billion in 2012 to 41.5 billion in 2016. South Africa’s imports from France in 2016 compared to 2015 showed an increase of 35%, double than the percentage increase in our export to France last year.
Distributed by APO on behalf of The Department of Trade and Industry, South Africa.
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