SA serious about tackling economic woes, Ramaphosa tells Bloomberg

2018-09-26 20:19
Cyril Rampahosa.

Cyril Rampahosa. (Supplied)

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WATCH: Trump was 'ill-informed' on land expropriation - Ramaphosa in US

2018-09-25 15:06

President Cyril Ramaphosa said his US counterpart Donald Trump's comments on land expropriation in South Africa were 'ill-informed'. Watch.WATCH

They shook hands and spoke cordially to each other, but did not mention the US president's recent controversial tweet.

This is what President Cyril Ramaphosa told the Bloomberg summit held in New York on Wednesday.

Following his speech to prominent US business representatives in New York, Ramaphosa told Bloomberg Television in an interview that he and President Donald Trump sat at the same dinner table with others at the 73rd General Assembly of the United Nations on Tuesday.

To great consternation of the South African government, Trump in a recent Tweet expressed concern over farm expropriations and attacks, as well as large-scale farm murders. He requested Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to look into these issues.

READ: Trump tweets about SA land expropriation, farm killings

Ramaphosa reiterated that Trump had been misinformed. Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Lindiwe Sisulu and Pompeo are to meet in New York on Friday.

He emphasised that land seizures would not be allowed, and that land reform would proceed within the law. Ramaphosa said he has full confidence that a solution to the challenge to "put right what was done wrong many years ago" and aiding the economy will be found. The president said at the conference that South Africa's strategic position at the southern tip of Africa makes it an important investment destination. 

Moreover, apart from offering many investment opportunities, it is also the gateway to the rest of Africa. Various other top speakers, among them British Prime Minister Theresa May, also spoke at the summit.

Ramaphosa told the summit that African leaders' decision earlier this year to create a free trade region in Africa has opened a market of more than 1.2 billion people with a combined gross domestic product of $3.4 trillion. "This will fundamentally reform the economies of many African countries. It will also heighten South Africa's attractiveness as an investment destination", said the president.

ALSO READ: Ramaphosa signs declaration on African free trade region

Ramaphosa paid great attention to the South African economy in his speech.

He said the country is determined to grow the economy after a decade of tepid growth, declining investment and increasing unemployment.

"We are working hard to improve the investment environment, among others by ensuring policy certainty and continuation, fixing parastatals, and consolidating fiscal debt.

"We have put in place the pillars of sustained growth for the future and are urgently looking at addressing present concerns, specifically the effect of two quarters of negative growth," Ramaphosa said.

He also informed the summit about the government's stimulus plan, which he announced last week. "The purpose of this is to allow the economy to grow again, to protect existing job opportunities and to create new ones."

Ramaphosa said the government is reprioritising the budget to invest more funds in areas that will boost economic growth. This includes agriculture, townships, rural businesses and infrastructure.

A dedicated team in the Presidency will supervise implementation of a comprehensive infrastructure programme. The summit also heard about Ramaphosa's plan to attract $100bn in investment to South Africa over the next five years.

Ramaphosa invited business people to attend an international investment conference in Johannesburg in October. He also told the summit about the four envoys he appointed to travel the world to lure investment to South Africa.

Various big US firms have major investments in the country.

*Netwerk24 reporter Sarel van der Walt is a political journalist accompanying the president by invitation of the Presidency and the Department of International Relations to report on events in New York for Media24's publications.

Read more on:    bloomberg  |  cyril ramaphosa  |  new york  |  summit  |  economy

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