Deputy trade and industry minister Bulelani Magwanishe with chairman and MD of the Volkkswagen Group South Africa Thomas Schaefer and Eastern Cape premier Phumulo Masualle

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's government is committed to supporting the local production of vehicles in order to boost the economy and exports as well as create jobs, deputy trade and industry minister Bulelani Magwanishe said at the weekend.

"Our commitment to local vehicle production is marked in our Industrial Policy Action Plan with a prime focus towards adding value in the manufacturing and industrial sector,"  Magwanishe said at the launch of the new Polo by Volkswagen South Africa in Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape province. The project has an investment value of  R6.1 billion.

"Export promotion, job creation and inclusive growth remain as the fundamentals to this policy," Magwanishe said.

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The automotive industry is the largest manufacturing sector in South Africa’s economy and currently employs about 300,000 people; 31,000 of them in vehicle assembly, 82,000 in component manufacturing and the rest in retail.

Magwanishe said government support to the sector included disbursement under the Automotive Production and Development Programme amounting to R8 billion since its inception in 2009.

He lauded VWSA’s efforts to support the entrance of black industrialists in the automotive sector through its "Ntinga" empowerment project.

"Similar initiatives by other vehicle manufacturers must be advanced through the partnership of the public and private sector, and other stakeholders," he said.

- African News Agency (ANA)