President Jacob Zuma says manufacturing forms the backbone of South Africa’s economy and is an integral element in addressing some of the challenges facing the country.
The President said this on Thursday when he answered questions in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) in Parliament.
It was his last session in the NCOP according to the Parliamentary programme for the year.
He said collaboration with BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – with regards to manufacturing is ongoing and includes inward foreign direct investment and outward export promotion of South African products, trade relations and technical cooperation, including training programmes.
The manufacturing sectors of both India and China continue to be key drivers of broader economic and industrial growth in the global economy, he said.
South Africa benefits considerably from the exports of primary commodities and intermediate goods to both these economic powerhouses that are also BRICS members.
“We are keen to further promote foreign direct investment, particularly from manufacturing companies in BRICS member States,” said President Zuma.
Significant progress has been registered in this regard, and a good example is the significant investments made by Chinese companies into the automotive sector, which are estimated to be in the region of R8 billion.
Government has been engaging the BRICS Think Tank Council in order to identify concrete areas of cooperation that South Africa can take forward during the country’s BRICS presidency in 2018.
A BRICS Network of Smart Manufacturing Hubs has been recommended and it is expected to pool together knowledge, technology and new ideas on the identification of new and interconnected value chains.
“We will indeed seek to implement the declaration as it relates to the fostering of partnerships for cooperation in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) hardware, software and skills through developing the next generation of innovative solutions in the areas of smart cities, health care and energy efficient devices, amongst others,” said the President.
Enhanced support for the manufacturing sector will be set out in the Industrial Policy Action Plan 2018-2019 which will be announced by the Minister of Trade and Industry.
The President said South Africa looks forward to hosting the BRICS Summit next year. He said the summit will enable South Africa to take the cooperation further and enhance benefits for the country.
On the issue of the political situation unfolding in neighbouring Zimbabwe, President Zuma said South Africa is not in a position to make any calls regarding the matter at the moment.
In his capacity as chair of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), President Zuma called an urgent Organ Troika meeting at the SADC Secretariat headquarters in Gaborone, Botswana.
The meeting is being attended by the Ministers responsible for Foreign or External Affairs from the SADC Organ Troika member states including Angola, Tanzania and Zambia, plus the SADC Council chairperson, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, who is also the South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation.