Cape Town - Wesgro, Cape Town and the Western Cape’s official Tourism, Trade and Investment Promotion Agency, would like to correct  the regrettable insinuation in today’s lead story of the Cape Argus (12 September 2017) that trade missions do not benefit the economy of the Western Cape.

As was explained to the paper in detail, these missions are an essential part of boosting exports, bringing hundreds of millions of rands into the economy, and ultimately creating jobs.

Their benefit to Cape companies is significantly enhanced when they are led by government leaders like Premier Helen Zille, Mayor Patricia de Lille, and Minister of Economic Opportunities Alan Winde. These leaders open doors for companies in challenging foreign markets, and their presence endorses the Cape’s exporters as globally competitive businesses.

For more than thirty years Wesgro has been leading trade missions, co-ordinated by expert market managers from the Wesgro Trade Unit, and often conducted in collaboration with the national Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and its units like Trade Invest Africa (TIA). For example, the Outward Selling Mission (OSM) to Singapore and  Malaysia from 21-25 August 2017 was organised by the DTI. The DTI provides funding  for companies to participate in trade missions through their EMIA funding  incentive.

Trade missions allow for Cape companies to  directly engage with counterparts in key strategic markets, making it easier  for companies to sign business agreements, which is a process that the Wesgro team facilitates and measures.

The benefit of this work continues to  pay off for our exporters: in the first quarter of our financial year (April-June 2017) eight business agreements have been signed in agro-processing  and agribusiness with R84.75million of exports facilitated and 73 jobs created. R92 million in Outward Foreign Direct Investment (OFDI) declarations were received, with 120 jobs to be created.

The OFDI mandate of Wesgro’s Trade Unit serves to boost outward investment by Western Cape companies into the rest of Africa in key sectors, including agro-processing, manufacturing, production, infrastructure and services.

The Wesgro trade mission to Senegal this year,  with the objective of boosting Cape Halaal products, resulted in declarations amounting to R100 million.

The trade mission to Ethiopia last month, led by Mayor De Lille,  has already resulted in a declaration amounting to R200 million, while the Brexit mission to the UK has resulted in declarations amounting to tens of millions, with an official announcement to be made this week by the Minister Winde.

This is just to name a few this year.

Wesgro is proud of these excellent  results and will continue to rigorously seek trade opportunities for Western  Cape companies, so that we can boost economic growth, and create jobs.

This is not only in line with international best practise, but in accordance with the legislation that established  Wesgro as the Western Cape’s official tourism, trade and investment promotion agency.

* Colin Wardle is the media relations officer for Wesgro.

** The views expressed here don't necessarily represent that of Independent Media.

Cape Argus