Pretoria – South Africa remains open for business and meaningful economic partnerships.
This was the message by President Jacob Zuma to the South Africa-France Business Forum, which took place on Monday, in Paris, on the side-lines of his two-day state visit.
Despite investments from France amounting to over R24 billion and creating more than 4000 jobs, President Zuma believes more can still be done.
He told the business leaders that he was keen to see increased industrialisation, localisation, job creation and skills development linked to the large infrastructure and energy contracts acquired by French companies.
“We believe that there is further room to increase bilateral trade and investment. We want France to partner as we take further the transformation of our economy, to ensure inclusivity and sustainability. One of the key programmes in this regard is the Black Industrialist programme which seeks to promote the participation of black entrepreneurs in manufacturing,” he said.
The President noted that the partnership with beneficiaries of the Black Industrialists programme will contribute meaningfully in any joint venture that will be undertaken with French business.
President Zuma also welcomed the recent signing of the Economic Partnership Agreement between the European Union and six countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), including South Africa.
This development-oriented agreement is the first of its kind with an African region pursuing regional economic integration.
In pragmatic terms, this means that South Africa has achieved improved market access for 32 agricultural products to the EU market.
The agreement will also ensure improved access for South Africa’s exports of flowers, dairy, fruit and fruit products, wine, sugar and ethanol.
The agreement, President Zuma said, will eliminate export subsidies on agricultural goods destined to the region as this will go a long way in addressing the trade imbalance to the two regions.
Meanwhile, on the so-called Brexit, President Zuma said it holds implications way beyond the borders of the UK and the member states of the EU.
Britain recently held a referendum on the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union. A total of 52 percent of the 30 million people who took part voted to leave.
President Zuma said the withdrawal outcome has impacted seriously on world economies and markets, and both countries have been affected.
“We will impress upon France to play a role during this period of finding solutions that will not cause further difficulties on the global economy,” added President Zuma.