International Relations and Cooperation Minister, Dr Naledi Pandor, says government has created a significant footprint in Asian markets as part of efforts to return the country to pre-COVID-19 economic growth.
The Minister said this when she participated in the debate on the State of the Nation Address on Wednesday.
“We will identify new opportunities and expand those that have benefit for South Africa. In pursuit of this objective, South Africa has created a significant footprint in Asia, which is the continent showing the most promise of a speedy return to pre-COVID-19 levels of economic growth.
“Last year, South Africa acceded to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation to take up significant trade and development opportunities available in this region. We will also benefit from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) of these countries. This partnership created the world’s biggest trading bloc, estimated to account for about US $26 trillion or 30% of global GDP, and 28% of global trade,” Pandor said.
The Minister said in response to the President’s call of intensifying efforts to stimulate growth, government is working tirelessly to raise South Africa’s global visibility by also “promoting [South Africa] as the best place to be, to do business, to visit, to work, to study and to live”.
“We are also responding to new opportunities and harnessing the collective capabilities of DIRCO’s resources both at home and abroad,” Pandor said.
South Africa, the Minister said, will leverage engagement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to enhance mutually beneficial trade, investment and tourism ties, and to support skills development and training for South Africans.
Pandor said South Africa secured significant beef export opportunities to the Malaysian market as of November 2020.
“Market access was also obtained for fruits to Thailand. Product protocols are being negotiated in the region and are at an advanced stage. These include table grapes to Vietnam and South Korea, avocadoes to India and Japan, and pears to China and India.
“Total two-way trade with Asia and the Middle East (inclusive of Oceania) breached the important milestone of R1 trillion, for the first time, in 2019 and is set to grow further.”
Many companies from the Asian region have made significant investment pledges during the President’s investment Summits and State Visits.
Companies such as Toyota, Isuzu, Tata Motors, Mahindra and Motherson Sumi have expanded their investments in the country.
China has pledged to invest $14 billion, and Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates $10 billion each.
“We aim to build on these successes by ensuring growing global trade, which is one of the best ways to fight poverty, inequality and unemployment in our country and our continent,” said Pandor.