‘US investment can help SA’s radical economic transformation’

2014-08-04 12:57

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Investment from the United States can help bring about radical economic transformation, International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane has said.

“Ordinary South Africans would want to see radical economic transformation of our economy and that would happen if we go all out and take advantage of opportunities like this to say SA is open for business,” Nkoana-Mashabane told journalists yesterday ahead of this week’s US-Africa Leaders summit in Washington DC.

“We need more than 600 companies from America to come and invest in SA, to work with us, to localise, to beneficiate, to expand our industrialisation, so that we can respond and do away with the challenges (of poverty, inequality and unemployment).

“On a daily basis people want to be sure of their next meal, they want sustainable jobs, they want to eradicate poverty, they want to close the gap of the inequity between between rich and poor that we see in our country.”

She said South Africa would use the summit to lobby US politicians to extend the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa), which was signed into law by the US Congress in 2000 and which is up for renewal next year.

There is a lobby in Congress for South Africa – a middle-income country – to be excluded from Agoa, which provides trade preferences for duty-free entry into the US for certain goods. Some argue that this has given South Africa an unfair advantage.

Nkoana-Mashabane said that instead of “punishing” South Africa for doing well by excluding the country from Agoa, the US could use it as an example.

“The best way to respond to Agoa is to encourage other African countries to say, you see if you beneficiate more, if you industrialise more, if you expand your market like SA ... indeed Americans mean business. They really mean to build stronger and sustainable relations. They will buy quality products from you.

“If you only have one good student and you say I think you are growing fast, I’m cutting limbs, you must find other students quicker. So you will actually scare others who really think you mean well. You don’t graduate me when I’m still in my second year of university. You will want to come out and say this will work. Indeed if we democratise, if we industrialise, if we beneficiate, this is a win-win partnership,” she said.

President Jacob Zuma is set to speak at a US Chamber of Business breakfast today, and he is scheduled to have dinner with chief executives of American companies tonight.

One day of the summit will be devoted to discussing Agoa.

South African companies listed to attend the US-Africa Business Forum tomorrow include Champion International Group, Econet Wireless International, Harith Funds, Transnet, Shanduka, SAA, Massmart and Telkom.

Dangote Industries, owned by the richest man in Africa, Aliko Dangote from Nigeria, is also on the list of attendees.

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