BMW, JPMorgan urge UK to ease Covid-19 limits on Southern Africa

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UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
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Dozens of companies appealed to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ease restrictions on travel from southern Africa that are hampering trade.

The limits on movement are jeopardising the competitive advantage the UK has, which stem from its historical, cultural and economic links with Africa, the businesses said in a letter sent Monday by lobby group Business Leadership South Africa. The South African units of companies including BMW AG, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Old Mutual and TotalEnergies SE were among the signatories.

"As Britain looks to develop new trading relationships around the world, we would urge you to reassess the restrictions placed on southern Africa, which frustrate trade and impact the life chances of millions of people who depend on travel for business, education, sport, and cultural exchange," they said.

The letter adds to pleas by the South African government and South Africans living in the UK urging Johnson’s administration to remove the country from its travel red list, which requires visitors from that nation to stay in quarantine for 10 days and undergo mandatory Covid-19 testing.

South Africa’s tourism industry, which contributes about 4% to gross domestic product, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council. The sector has been hard-hit by travel restrictions imposed by countries including the U.K. that are its main source markets. Statistics South Africa reported in April that foreign arrivals dropped by 71% between 2019 and 2020.

Other southern African countries on the UK’s red list include Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

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