Trade, Industry and Competition Deputy Minister, Fikile Majola says the Special Economic Zones (SEZ) programme will play a critical role in supporting the implementation of South Africa’s economic reconstruction and recovery plan.
“The SEZ programme is at the core of the reimagined industrial strategy, which is purposefully structured to stimulate local and foreign direct investments. The SEZs are also going to play an important role in the African Continental Free Trade Agreement as we position our country to become a vibrant manufacturing hub of the African Continent,” Majola said.
Majola was addressing the Select Committee on Trade and Industry, Small Business Development, Tourism, Employment and Labour on Tuesday.
The Deputy Minister briefed Parliament on progress of the implementation of the Special Economic Zones and the Industrial Parks Revitalisation Programmes which are both driven by the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition.
Majola also noted that the implementation process of the SEZ programme requires collaborative efforts from all spheres of government to ensure that the roll-out of the programme is efficient, integrated and well-coordinated.
“It is only through cooperation at national, provincial and local government levels that we can successfully build an inclusive economy. Inter-governmental relations, both horizontally and vertically, are important in us achieving the set objectives of the reimagined industrial strategy.
“The efforts of pursuing a coordinated framework through the District Development Model approach has presented an opportunity for the creation of a balance ecosystem for an integrated development,” Majola said.
The Deputy Minister further commended the implementation of the new integrated approach of ensuring that national, provincial and local government work together and share responsibility for the implementation of the SEZ programme is bearing fruit.
He said the Tshwane Automotive Special Economic Zone clearly illustrated the positive impact of the implementation of this approach.
“The success of the Tshwane Automotive SEZ has reignited the desire and the vision to turn the Gauteng city region into a single multi-tier and integrated SEZ. This is one of our recent shining examples of successful SEZs, joining the likes of Coega, Dube Trade Port and East London SEZ,” Majola said.
The department’s presentation to the committee showed that, despite the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on economies throughout the world, the value of private investments in South African SEZs increased by R1.8 billion in March 2019 to R17.7 billion in March 2020.
It is expected that the number and value of operational investments will also increase by almost R10 billion when the next financial year ends.
Special Economic Zones offer various incentives such as reduced corporate tax rates, VAT and customs relief, building allowances and an employment tax incentive.
SEZs are defined as a geographically designated area of a country set aside for specifically targeted economic activities, which are then supported through special arrangements and support systems to promote industrial development.