JOHANNESBURG - The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (dtic) has released a Trade Policy Statement, which seeks to build industrial capacity and drive manufacturing exports in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Dtic Minister Ebrahim Patel, on Friday, said the release of the statement was in the context of the adoption of a policy of promoting industrialisation and localisation, recently undertaken by the dtic.
The Trade Policy Statement commits to promote industrial capacity, and frames its impact on workers, women and communities.
Subsequent sections consider South Africa’s approach to trade in relation to African integration, bilateral engagements and the multilateral trading system.
Patel said trade policy must promote and facilitate the development of inclusive economies.
He said, South Africa was for the first time, taking the deliberate and necessary step of pursuing a gender-sensitive and gender-responsive trade policy.
“Trade policy needs to be a source of new jobs and expansion of the industrial economy in South Africa. It must support South Africa’s industrial development,” Patel said.
“Increased exports can drive sustainable growth, generate decent well-paying jobs and widen economic inclusion, including for women and youth.”
The new trade policy aims to promote inward-oriented investment to support South Africa’s industrial development through the localisation of productive sectors of the economy.
Patel said the trade policy would also seek to unlock development across the African continent in light of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
He said South Africa would set out the case for rules-of-origin that increases the level of African value-add, while developing cross-border value chains covering a range of industries.
The dtic is incorporating an AfCFTA Chapter in sector Master Plans and the district development strategy.
“The continent, and South Africa as part of it, must avoid the trap of simply becoming basic assemblers or finishers of product largely produced elsewhere in the world,” Patel said.
“This is essential to deepen industrial development and with it, growth, investment and good quality jobs.”
Patel also said there was agreement to change the basket of South Africa’s exports to China, now dominated by minerals, to include a greater portion of higher value-added manufactured and agricultural products.
In terms of the US, Patel said they would seek to correct the decline in bilateral trade, particularly in South Africa’s value added exports under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
On the future of multi-lateralism, the Statement said the World Trade Organisation (WTO) will serve to strengthen the multilateral, rules-based trading system, enhance its legitimacy and also create the basis for economic growth.