The BRICS Business Council has maintained that South Africa remains an attractive investment destination and a gateway for trade within African markets, in spite of ongoing logistical and energy challenges in the country.
The Council’s Trade and Investment Working Group’s chairperson, advocate Mtho Xulu said yesterday one of their focus areas was to make the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) the main priority to showcase the opportunities that exist in Africa.
Xulu said they would be profiling Africa at the 15th BRICS Summit next week as a market but also bringing out the nuances found in the different blocs of Africa, within a messaging of a potential single market.
“As much as we've seen trade growing over the last 10 years of the business council, we are unfortunately still maintaining a deficit with regards to South Africa being part of the group, but we look at this deficit as an opportunity,” Xulu said.
“We need to use the Trade and Investment Working Group to project South Africa as an investment destination, not only for BRICS members, but also for the global economy.”
Xulu said they would make a case to investors that South Africa was competitive from a trade point of view, with the correct human resource, the correct infrastructure, and cost-effective energy.
“We can't move away from the fact that we have to be competitive in a world that has a shrinking pools of investment, we need to make sure that we are attractive, not just because we are members of BRICS, but because we are a credible economy,” he said.
The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition highlighted that South Africa was the hub of a continent rich in critical minerals that would drive business success in the 21st century.
The department said the continent had resources of lithium, vanadium, cobalt, nickel, copper, rare earth minerals, rhodium, and many, many other minerals that would be the engines of the new green economy.
It said the continent had made it clear that the investors of choice were those who would process the resources here, close to source, enabling beneficiation.
Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel said South Africa was part of a larger and growing African market facilitated by the African continental free trade area, and had access to other free trade agreements.
Patel said South Africa had significant industrial capacity and was Africa's strongest industrial innovation and fabrication tradition.
He said BRICS-based firms could leverage off this by investing in manufacturing and productive services here in South Africa, from heavy industries such as steel, engineering, and chemicals.
“They’d be interested to know where we have Africa's largest production of automobiles and components, with production now of hybrid vehicles. Also, our industrial strengths in food and pharmaceuticals, among many others, are worth highlighting,” Patel said.
“The shift to renewable energy, the regulatory flexibility for companies to self-generate, to work on green hydrogen as an energy feedstock, our abundance of sun and wind are all ways to highlight the opportunity for green industrial innovation and fabrication capability that South Africa has.
“The tendency that I have observed with commentators where they agonise over our problems endlessly, paralysingly, is not inspiring nor supported by the evidence of our strengths and economic resilience.
“Our energy new build programme is drawing in new investment. The level of excitement in the market is significant. The fixing of power stations provide greater energy stability. The partnership between government and business is enabling the widest talent pool of South Africans to be drawn on to address the energy challenges.”