27 August 2012

Africa: South Africa a 'Desirable Trade Nation'

Measures put in place by the South African government to grow the economy are bearing fruit, with the country being regarded as a desirable trade nation, says Trade and Industry Deputy Minister Elizabeth Thabethe.

Thabethe is currently in India leading a technical mission to observe progress made by the Indian government on the development of Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs).

The technical mission serves to reinforce the long-standing friendship that South Africa and India have built, with bilateral trade rising from US$45-million in 1993 to surpass the $7-billion mark last year.

Economic fundamentals such as trade liberation, inflation targeting, exchange control liberation and the control of government expenditure of fiscal measures since the dawn of democracy had helped the country, Thabethe said at the Indian Chamber of Commerce in the state of Cochin, Kerala on Monday.

"These measures are now starting to bear fruit with exports increasing sharply as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product," she said.

"South Africa now finds itself in a position where it's regarded as a very desirable trade nation having negotiated a number of Free Trade Agreements over the past several years."

India ranked amongst the top 10 investing countries in South Africa, with estimated investment in South Africa calculated to be over $57-billion.

She added that both countries have initiatives in place that enhance relations. The initiatives include the India-South Africa Joint Ministerial Commission, as well as the India-SA chief executive officers' forum that is gaining momentum.

"The challenge now, however, lies in increasing the pace of growth and consolidating gains," she said.

Various agreements have also been signed and entered into including a general trade agreement; co-operation on defence issues; small medium enterprises development and capacity-building through small enterprises development agencies and the National Small Industries Corporation (NSIC).

Thabethe is accompanied by a delegation comprising senior officials from the Trade and Industry Department and its agencies, including the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) and the National Empowerment Fund.

The visit, which will also observe the connectivity of rural economies to mainstream economic activity in India, will conclude on 30 August. It will include visits to the cities of Kerala, Chennai, Mumbai and New Delhi.


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