Pretoria – The Select Committee on Trade and International Relations on Wednesday called on government and the private sector to capitalise on the new economic partnership agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU).
Chairperson of the Committee Eddie Makue said the potential for value-added products in the manufacturing sector is large and should be properly harnessed to benefit the regional economy.
“The trade that South Africa does with EU members presents immeasurable opportunities for a growing and developmental economy such as ours.
“Total trade between South Africa and the EU increased from R374 billion in 2011 to R536 billion in 2015, an increase of 43%. SA exports to the EU increased from R151 billion in 2011 to R216 billion in 2015,” said Makue.
Makue made the comments following the Department of Trade and Industry’s briefing to brief Parliament on the new economic trade agreements with the European Union.
The briefing comes as the Great Britain, South Africa’s major trading partner in the EU, voted in June to leave the EU.
The chairperson noted that internal dynamics of the EU had changed very little for South Africa and that the country should exploit trade benefits as much as possible.
The EU remains South Africa’s main trading partner.
“The days of exporting our raw materials are long gone. If exports happen, there must be value addition benefitting South Africa’s economic growth. The country should move to empowering our workers and youth, in particular through beneficiation and a thriving manufacturing sector. That will not only contribute to job creation, but also the up-skilling of our youth,” Makue said.
He said trade benefits as a result of the EPA should also benefit the Southern African Development Community region, as a stable regional economy is good for a thriving and growing South African economy.