Swiss investments in South Africa more than trebled between 2009 and 2012 compared to those made between 2003 and 2008, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies told Swiss businessmen and ministers on Thursday.
Addressing the South Africa-Switzerland Business Forum in Cape Town, Davies said that Swiss companies had made 20 investments worth R13.9-billion in South Africa between in South Africa between 2009 and 2012, creating 7 000 jobs in the process.
This compared to 12 investments worth R3.8-billion and generating 3 000 jobs between 2003 and 2008.
Overall trade between the two countries had declined, however, falling from R21-billion in 2011 to R14-billion last year - a drop which Davies attributed to the slump in demand for platinum.
Praising Switzerland as one of the most technologically advanced and sophisticated countries in the world, Davies said that with Europe stuck in low growth, Africa - the second fastest growing region in the world after Asia - offered huge opportunities for Swiss companies.
"Switzerland is a country that we regard as strategic, very important, with very important skills and abilities."
Davies noted a recent survey by the Financial Times indicating that South Africa was the most favoured African destination for foreign investors.
Swiss Federal Councillor for Economic Affairs, Education and Research Johann Schneider-Ammann told the forum that Switzerland likewise regarded South Africa as a strategic partner.
He said that South Africa was Switzerland's most important trading partner on the continent, adding that Switzerland was the fifth largest foreign investor in South Africa, where more than 100 Swiss companies employed over 35 000 people.
Schneider-Ammann praised the Swiss-South African Joint Research Programme, set up in 2007, saying that the it now boasted 65 joint research projects.
South Africa and Switzerland also signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation and trade promotion on Thursday.
The agreement was signed between Switzerland Global Enterprise and the Department of Trade and Industry to promote market access for South African small businesses through the Swiss Import Promotion Programme (Sippo), which facilitates market access for small businesses from countries around the world.
Daniel Kueng, CEO of Switzerland Global Enterprise - which helps foreign companies invest in Switzerland and overseas - said its South African office, started five years ago, was in high demand from Swiss investors.
He noted that Switzerland accounted for five percent of foreign direct investment (FDI) worldwide and 1.4% of all exports, despite accounting for just one percent of the world's population.
Schneider-Ammann, who arrived in South Africa for a four-day trip on Wednesday, was due to hold meetings with Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande and Science and Technology Minister Derek Hanekom, and to visit various businesses along an accompanying delegation of science and business representatives.