In response to the State of the Nation Address debate this week, Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel has highlighted in a letter to the President where South African industry has progressed in the last year.
He started by pointing out that, last year, the Investment Conference had brought together hundreds of local and foreign investors, with pledges to invest R364-billion in the South African economy.
The United Nations estimated that R75-billion of foreign direct investment flowed into South Africa last year.
Patel pointed to examples where foreign and local investment could be seen realising in the country, including the opening of a new R500-million Toyota facility, Exxaro opening its Belfast coal mine next month, a liquid petroleum gas terminal opening in KwaZulu-Natal in May and Amazon Web Services launching three new data centres, in Cape Town, in June.
In July, a company called Dalisu will finish construction on a speciality chemical plant, in Mpumalanga, while a R6-billion Automotive Transformation Fund will come into operation from August.
September will see B. Braun opening a new medical and pharmaceutical devices plant, in Gauteng, and October will see Corobrik launching an expansion of its brick-making facility.
Patel further pointed out that South Africa last year developed social compacts in the clothing and textiles and poultry sectors. Leading retailers such as Foschini, Woolworths, Pick n Pay, Pep, Edgars, Truworths and Mr Price all committed to buy more locally made fashion products.
This while government had committed to crack down on illegally imported goods and seized hundreds of containers at ports.
The Minister highlighted that the Poultry Master Plan had been completed last year, with master plans in other sectors due to be completed this year, including in the steel and sugar industries.
In terms of opening new markets, South Africa made progress by ratifying the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement, while the country exported R350-billion of goods to African countries last year – up 5% year-on-year.
“Last year, we had also recorded our first significant trade surplus in a decade, of about R23-billion, in our trade with the European Union, selling more than we buy; largely driven by export of cars and car parts, and in the year ahead we want to strengthen manufactured exports further to narrow the manufactured-product trade balance,” Patel stated.
He wrote in his letter that the economy’s annual output is currently R5-trillion and that 16.4-million people have jobs.
“Yet many millions of our people remain jobless and excluded.
“More must be done so that we change our destiny and we need to scale up our successes. These examples show what is being done so that we create hope for millions of young people leaving school and university, eager to find jobs,” Patel said.