President Donald Trump delivers a statement on the Iran nuclear deal from the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Tuesday, May 8, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
JOHANNESBURG - Following US President Donald Trump’s threats to cut foreign assistance dollars to countries - including South Africa - who don’t vote with the US at the United Nations, President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Cabinet has expressed disappointment on the US decision not to exempt the continental superpower from the application of steel and aluminium duties.

The South African government, which received about R3.2 billion  in the 2017/18 year according to USAid, said it would continue to engage with US authorities to find a mutually acceptable outcome. 

Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane said Cabinet also encouraged domestic exporters to continue to lobby US buyers to apply for product exemptions, “as South African companies export niche products and semi-processed products for further processing in the US”.

The Cabinet also welcomed the completion of the first phase of the revitalisation of the  Phuthaditjhaba Industrial Park in the Free State as an “important milestone” in implementing the Revitalisation of Industrial Parks Programme.

The R50 million upgrades are expected to attract local entrepreneurs to set up their operations due to the improved infrastructure and security.

Also making news this week was the investment announcement by Africa’s largest drugmaker, Aspen Pharmacare , of R1bn in their drug plant in Port Elizabeth, which created 500 much needed jobs.

In her budget vote speech in Parliament this week, Mokonyane announced a total budget of R1.5 billion for 2018/19, with R36 million cut from the previous financial year.

Of the budget, 61 percent comprised transfers to the entities, with the Government Communication and Information Services receiving the biggest allocation to drive communication work, awareness and promotion of government services and programmes, according to Mokonyane.

Their priorities in the next decade would focused on four areas including creating a new vision for the broadcast sector, accelerating the migration from analogue to digital, stabilising the entities and the SABC and improving organisational capacity. 

Mokonyane said they required partnerships and collaboration with all stakeholders because they could not do it alone.

The stakeholders included communities, the industry, NGOs, academia and labour.

Meanwhile, Africa’s largest mobile operator MTN fell more than 4 percent in early trade before paring the losses.

This after the JSE listed group issued a warning to its shareholders that Trump’s decision to reinstate sanctions against Iran could threaten  its years-long efforts to repatriate R2.98bn in cash back to South Africa.

Also making news was the fact that business confidence has gone down to lows last seen during former president Jacob Zuma’s ruinous reign.
The Business Confidence Index (BCI) had eased from 97.6 points in March to 96 points in April as a result of a weaker rand and a decline in exports in the month.

On a yearly basis, however, the BCI improved by 1.1 index points last month compared to April 2017.