The DA has highlighted the benefits of closer trade ties with the rest of Africa and the world. At a press conference in Johannesburg yesterday, MP Tim Harris said South Africa should be part of Africa’s success story, rather than a bystander.
Presenting the “trade and investment” segment of the party’s growth and jobs series, Harris, who is the DA finance spokesman, warned that South Africa was in danger of losing its status as the gateway to Africa.
A DA document released at the press conference referred to increasingly tough competition from neighbouring countries “many of which are showing signs of much stronger growth than we are”.
It noted that Lagos (in Nigeria) and Nairobi (Kenya) were becoming important financial centres; and Luanda (Angola) and Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of Congo) were also attracting considerable investment capital, particularly for mineral extraction.
To compete, South Africa would have to make key reforms. “Trade is hampered by arduous regulations and an unfocused trade strategy. According to the World Bank’s Doing Business report, our country ranks 144 out of 148 countries survey for ‘trading across borders’.”
Harris advocated “one-stop border posts to expedite border crossings and reduce administrative burdens and costs”. This was something “government has been talking about but it has failed to make progress”.
He proposed speeding up customs clearance by introducing an electronic data system; and streamlining procedures to reduce the time it takes to import and export from over three weeks to between seven and eight days.
From 2009 to June 2012, the Western Cape, which is run by the DA, attracted 80 international foreign direct investment projects valued at R30.1 billion, which created 6 906 jobs.