Minister of Trade and Industry Dr Rob Davies yesterday left with a group of 33 other SEZ practitioners for China to attend the 4th capacity building programme on SEZs. Photo: Tracey Adams
Cape Town - A group of 34 Special Economic Zones (SEZs) practitioners and supporting sector specialists from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), provincial departments, and agencies tasked with implementation of the SEZ programme, left for Tianjin in China on Monday to attend the 4th capacity building programme on SEZs from Tuesday to June 13.

Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said the training formed part of a five-year agreement signed between South Africa and China in 2014. It was intended to train about 30 officials a year on SEZs. “The purpose of the programme on the SEZ is to equip practitioners with the technical know-how on the planning, development, management, and operations of SEZs,” he said.

“The programme is important to ensure that all stakeholders have the technical know-how required for the successful development of the SEZs in South Africa.

“One of the major challenges that the government has identified in relation to the development of the SEZs as part of the implementation of our SEZ programme is the capacity constraint,” Davies said.

He said the dti “deemed it necessary” to design and implement a systematic capacity building programme on SEZs to create a pool of skilled and trained officials who would make implementation of the SEZ programme a success.

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“Despite the strong and mutually-beneficial political and economic relations that we have with China, the country is regarded as one of the best in the world when it comes to the implementation of the SEZ model. Our officials will be greatly empowered by being exposed to the zones in China and how they are managed,” Davies said.

The training covers a range of topics, including planning, infrastructure development, developing investment propositions, marketing tools and channels and how to deal with potential investors, stakeholder management including international alliances, public-private partnerships models, as well as financing and managing operations of SEZs.

The SEZ programme had been introduced to contribute to accelerating industrialisation as a necessary step towards addressing many of the country’s socio-economic problems such as unemployment, poverty and underdevelopment. The objectives of the SEZ programme included promoting targeted industrial capabilities within the framework of the industrial policy action plan, new growth path, and the new development plan.

It also promotes beneficiation and value-addition to the country’s minerals and other natural resources, as well as developing a world-class infrastructure, he said.