Department of Trade, Industry and Competition zooms in on manufacturing at Indaba
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Johannesburg - The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) Minister Ebrahim Patel is on a course of recovery in the manufacturing sector, seeking to chart a post-Covid-19 pandemic recovery course for the sector.
The 2021 Manufacturing Indaba, which is already under-way, will focus on a wide range of areas with relevance to the fortunes of the South African manufacturing sector.
These include, but are not limited to, the role of renewable energy, electric vehicles, the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement and the role of financial support in enabling manufacturing advances on the continent.
The Minister, in the keynote address at the opening session of the Indaba, said that the African market represents a R7 trillion opportunity for goods that can be manufactured on the continent.
“We are on the cusp of a potentially great renewal in local manufacturing that can drive increased output and competitiveness – what we call re-industrialisation,” said Minister Patel.
Patel said that the development of regional value chains across the continent presents a chance to create market linkages between regions and to integrate critical supply chains.
These opportunities, according to the Minister, have presented themselves in the pharmaceuticals sector, producing medical-grade face masks, ventilators and hand sanitisers, among many other product lines.
The Dube Trade Port in eThekwini has massive local and regional opportunities for fuel-cell production and commitments by global auto manufacturers such as Ford Motor Company and Mercedes Benz, who have continued to expand the production of flagship models in South Africa.
Patel said these advancements contribute to the commitment with social partners to reduce non-oil imports.
Patel drew attention to the danger that individual firms may raise prices as they gear up for localisation opportunities through policies being pursued by the DTIC under the auspices of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (ERRP).
Patel said that a rise in prices would sap public support for localisation and called on businesses to invest in measures to improve the competitiveness and dynamism of local firms.
“The government has now introduced reciprocal commitments attached to tariff increases or rebates of duties, which include commitments by affected firms not to raise prices”, said Patel.