Remarks by President Jacob Zuma, during the South Africa/Zimbabwe Business Forum Meeting on the occasion of President Mugabe’s State Visit to South Africa Sheraton Hotel, Pretoria
Your Excellency, President Robert Mugabe; The Minister of Trade and Industry in South Africa, Dr Rob Davies; The Minister of Industry and International Trade in Zimbabwe, Mr MC Bhima; Honourable Ministers here present; Representatives of Business Organisations from both countries; Captains of Industry; Distinguished Guests; Ladies and Gentlemen
Good Morning to you all!
It is a distinct pleasure for me to address this esteemed gathering of business delegations from both Zimbabwe and South Africa, who are meeting here today to exchange views on how South Africa and Zimbabwe can work together to advance economic cooperation for mutual benefit.
Let me also reiterate our gratitude that Comrade President Mugabe has been able to undertake this State Visit to South Africa.
We had very fruitful talks yesterday and most importantly, signed agreements which include the one establishing a Binational Commission to be chaired by the two Heads of State. We will meet annually from now onwards to ensure that relations at all levels are advanced for the benefit of our people.
South Africa and Zimbabwe share not only strong political and cultural relations but also and most profoundly, the economies our countries are historically interlinked.
There are many similarities between our countries’ paths to economic prosperity.
Consistent with the strong historical economic relations, a number of South African companies continue to operate in Zimbabwe, principally in the mining, tourism, agriculture, banking and retail sectors.
Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) by South African entities in Zimbabwe between 2003 and 2013 amounted to approximately 12.8 billion rand, creating over two thousand four hundred and eighty five thousand (2 485) employment opportunities.
South African companies in Zimbabwe include Nedbank, Impala Platinum, Standard Bank, Old Mutual and Tongaat-Hullet amongst many others.
Historically, our two countries trade more with each other than with any other country on the continent.
For example, between 2005 and 2014 South Africa’s exports to Zimbabwe grew by two hundred and forty seven (247) per cent from 7.1 billion rand to 24.8 billion rand, with minimal contraction recorded in 2006 and 2009.
In the same period, Zimbabwean exports to South Africa fell by 54.7 per cent to 2 billion rand from 4.4 billion rand that was reported in 2005.
South Africa’s exports to Zimbabwe comprise machinery, electrical equipment, mechanical appliances, chemical products, base metals, mineral products and agro-processed products.
In turn, Zimbabwe’s exports to South Africa include textiles, pearls, precious and semi-precious stones as well as base metals and mineral products.
We are meeting today to cement these trade relations and to explore new opportunities in the two countries. Opportunities for deeper economic cooperation exist in the fields of mining, water, energy, infrastructure development, transport, ICT among others.
The existing trade relations and potential for further cooperation amplify the need for regional integration to be at the top of our economic agenda.
The two governments have already paved the way for regional integration and bilateral economic cooperation through various agreements.
These include the SADC Trade Protocols, the South – Zimbabwe Bilateral Trade Agreement as well as the agreement on Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investment.
In an effort to encourage investment into the economy of Zimbabwe, South Africa has also through the Department of Trade and Industry facilitated Investment and Trade Initiatives to Harare and Bulawayo since 2010.
South African companies seeking investment opportunities, joint venture partnerships and trade opportunities in the Agro-processing, Mining and Capital Equipment, Infrastructure, Energy, Information and Communication Technology and Automotive Components have participated in these initiatives.
Ladies and gentlemen,
There is no stronger case for intra-African trade and diversifying away from the export of raw materials - than the recent global financial crises and the declining oil prices. All of these have decreased African export revenues generated from the western markets.
Despite the economic turbulence affecting the global economy, the economic outlook for Africa remains promising.
An integrated Africa has a potential market of 2.6 trillion US dollars. A prosperous and growing African economy is good for our continent’s development.
It also offers many opportunities for mutually-beneficial trade and investment partnerships between our two countries.
However intra-regional trade and sustained growth on the continent must be preceded by enabling technical and transport infrastructure.
In addressing these challenges, various African countries have signed the Tripartite Free Trade Area (T-FTA).
One notable initiative already launched under the arrangement is the Tripartite North-South Corridor Investment Programme.
With initial funding of 1.2 billion US dollars, a large proportion being funded from the African Development Bank and the Development Bank of Southern Africa, and strong support from the South African Government, actions are being taken to fast track this project.
This programme supports some of Africa’s busiest trade routes: linking the port of Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania to the Copper Belt in Zambia and into Lubumbashi in the DRC.
It then continues down through Zimbabwe and Botswana to Africa’s largest and busiest port, Durban, in South Africa.
In effect, the North-South Corridor Initiative will service eight countries, Tanzania, the DRC, Zambia, Malawi, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa. I am honoured to champion the North-South Corridor initiative on behalf of the African Union, of which you are a Chairperson, comrade President. It will unlock many opportunities in the continent.
Your Excellency, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, The business delegations gathered here have the requisite skills in the various sectors and hope that true partnerships will be established to advance our bilateral economic cooperation.
By working together, we believe that both South African and Zimbabwean enterprises can contribute meaningfully to Zimbabwe’s Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (ZIM-ASSET) which you briefed us about yesterday Comrade President, and the African continent as a whole.
Our two countries have an opportunity to capitalize on our abundant natural resources.
In so doing, we can promote economic transformation through commodity-based industrialization.
Ladies and gentlemen
We are aware of our responsibility as Governments to do everything possible to remove all the hindrances, perceived or otherwise, to investment.
We are prepared to do everything possible to create an environment that is conducive for investment.
As business you will play your part by ensuring that such investment leads to meaningful jobs for our people in order to improve the quality of life.
I reiterate South Africa’s support for the important deliberations you are having here, which will serve as a catalyst for stronger economic relations between our sister republics.
I wish the business forum every success.
I thank you.
Issued by Government Communications (GCIS) on behalf of The Presidency
09 April 2015