In keeping with the aim of Trade and Investment KwaZulu-NatalÂ´s annual Export Week to encourage more businesses to take the first steps towards ï¿½going globalï¿½, this year attendees had access to various experts with a view to building a global marketplace.
For the economy to growï¿½ South Africa needs to concentrate on growing export trade, Sihle Zikalalaï¿½ KwaZulu-NatalÂ´s MEC for Economic Developmentï¿½ Tourism and Environmental Affairsï¿½ told delegates at KZNÂ´s Export Week at DurbanÂ´s ICC in October. He said it was ideal for a country to have a positive trade balance.
Export Week, currently in its sixth yearï¿½ is intended to recogniseï¿½ promote and assist with growing export opportunities in the province, thereby giving export-ready businesses a platform to enhance their international business development strategies.
KZN is SAÂ´s second-largest economy behind Gauteng, contributing on average 16% to the countryÂ´s gross domestic product (GDP).
The province is strategically positioned by being home to two of AfricaÂ´s busiest and largest portsï¿½ Durban and Richards Bay.
Zikalala said AfricaÂ´s future hinged on intra-African trade and investment, which has expanded by 42% since 2007 and is led primarily by Kenyaï¿½ Nigeria and South Africa.
"While in the late 1990s only 5% of the countryÂ´s outbound investment was directed towards Africaï¿½ that figure increased to 20% by 2008 and there are at least 80 JSE-listed companies operating in Africa.
"Deepening regional integration is a key platform of South AfricaÂ´s trade regime as it offers substantial opportunities for the countryï¿½" said Zikalala.
He said intra-African trade was between a few economic powerhouses on the continent.
"In order for there to be more intra-African tradeï¿½ a few prerequisites have to be met. These include the elimination of the non-tariff barriers among African countriesï¿½ reduction in transport costsï¿½ minimal delays at border control posts and the reduction of red tape that heightens the cost of doing business in Africa."
He said that in the past year South Africa shipped $74.1bn (R1 012.21bn) worth of goods around the globeï¿½ a 37.6% increase since 2009.
"South African exports are still dominated by mineralsï¿½ particularly platinum and gold. Other important minerals include coalï¿½ iron oreï¿½ diamonds and manganese.
"This means that the economy is very vulnerable to changes in demand and prices in the international commodity markets," added Zikalala.
Not only did KZN Export Week highlight the significance of exporting to the local economy but the platform also celebrated and promoted some of the exciting successes that many of the KZN exporters have enjoyed since inception of Export Week.
While South AfricaÂ´s formal trade with the rest of the continent has increased steadily over the years, the country is yet to make significant inroads in some of its larger and fast growing economies. This is despite having a substantially more diversified economic base and relatively higher levels of technological advancement.
The African continent has experienced positive fundamental change over the past decade, thus drawing substantial interest from both traditional partners and emerging economic powers. Benefits arising from improvements in macroeconomic management and governance, institutional reforms and reduced incidences of armed conflicts have helped to sustain the economic growth momentum, which has averaged 5% and above.
South Africa also needs to better leverage the existing regional trade arrangements and various bilateral agreements to expand and diversify its export basket destined for the rest of the continent. South Africa is a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Southern African Customs Union (SACU). Hence, an imperative of the KZN Provincial Government is to develop and ensure access to the SADC region for exporters.
For more information:
Contact: Angel Sibisi, Communication Specialist, 076 062 3779 or email Angel@tikzn.co.za