090410 Transnet port terminal in Durban .photo by Simphiwe Mbokazi

Johannesburg - International perceptions of South Africa compare well with attitudes towards fellow Brics members Brazil, Russia, India and China and other emerging nations, according to a study of investors released yesterday.

The survey by Brand SA found that South Africa’s focus on infrastructure, growing economy and low cost of doing business were attractive.

However, investors were concerned about crime, corruption, security and physical distance from markets.

The study was done last year, long before the start of the platinum strike in January.

The results of the study contrast with those of the World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2013, which ranked South Africa 39th in the world.

The survey on international investor perceptions of South Africa is done every year by Brand SA, the country’s official marketing and reputation management agency.

The results are used to improve marketing and communications strategies to promote the country as an investment destination.

The study was conducted among investors in 16 developing and emerging economies.

The survey found South Africa came fourth in the category of the best country to do business in or with. The top three were China, India and Brazil, which meant that Brics nations led the pack.

The top three sectors associated with South Africa last year were mining and quarrying (at 64 percent this sector was up 10 percentage points on its 2012 measurement); agriculture, hunting, forestry and fishing (46 percent); and hospitality and tourism (46 percent).

Brand SA said a marked increase in awareness of the manufacturing sector should be noted, with 36 percent of the respondents associating South Africa with this sector.

It said China continued to outshine many countries and was the favourite economy to do business with, mainly due to its high productivity levels.

Petrus de Kock, Brand SA’s research manager, said in a research note that the country did not only have to achieve internal development objectives, but also had to position itself within complex patterns of change in the global and emerging market environments.

De Kock said that while some analysts might have been harsh in their criticism of emerging markets in the past year, and Brics in particular, China’s economy was still growing at 7.5 percent a year. India was expected to post 5.4 percent growth this year, and Brazil’s growth was more or less similar to that of South Africa at 2.3 percent.

“All is not lost for the Brics and emerging markets, however. The growth potential in the world economy still resides in emerging market environments,” he said.

De Kock quoted Business Monitor International, which he said had indicated in a recent analysis of the global economic outlook that in the next decade emerging markets were set to increase their share of global consumption from about 29 percent at present to about 41 percent.