South Africa’s newly established investment division in the Department of Trade and Industry, InvestSA, which champions a one-stop shop approach to investing in South Africa, and France’s trade and investment agency, Business France, on Tuesday signed a Declaration of Intent (DoI) on economic and investment cooperation, committing the two countries to boosting investment and trade.
The main objectives of the DoI, signed in Paris, were to strengthen and assist cooperation aimed at the enhancement of investment activities between the two countries, investment facilitation and enabling conditions for sustainable growth of economic cooperation, and the development of direct contacts between business circles in South Africa and France.
Business France and InvestSA would work together to strengthen business cooperation, advising on business opportunities and technical cooperation.
According to InvestSA head Yunus Hoosen France was a major investor in South Africa as well as in the rest of the African continent.
“There are currently 365 French companies operating in South Africa, creating local employment for 36 000 people. French companies have a growing interest in South Africa’s industrialisation and infrastructure roll-out, particularly in rail and our energy mix,” he said.
Business France director Philippe Yvergeniuax said his organisation was keen to work with InvestSA to attract investment into South Africa.
“Our main focus is working with South African companies on the African continent as well as attracting South African companies to set up in France. France is becoming a technology and innovation hub, particularly for start-ups, and such partnerships are encouraged with French and South African companies,” he stated.
The signing of the declaration had been lauded by both Trade and Industry Minister Dr Rob Davies and French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron as a positive step in the realisation of increased investment and economic cooperation between the two countries.
French investments in South Africa amounted to over R24-billion last year and created more than 4 000 jobs.
In 2015, the overall volume of trade totalled R33-billion.
President Jacob Zuma told business people at the France-South Africa Business Forum that French companies had acquired lucrative contracts in South Africa, in the infrastructure and energy programmes, amounting to billions of rands.
He stated that South Africa was keen to see increased industrialisation, localisation, job creation and skills development linked to the large infrastructure and energy contracts acquired by French companies.