SA, Russia urged to prioritise beneficiation

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Government’s industrialisation policy can be realised if bilateral relations between South Africa and Russia put beneficiation programmes at the forefront, says Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe.

“There must be an increased focus on industrialisation, mining and beneficiation, agriculture and agro-processing, energy, small, medium as well as micro enterprises (SMMEs), attracting investments, growing the oceans economy and tourism. This must be linked to our programme of developing black industrialists,” the Minister said on Tuesday.

He was speaking at a business roundtable discussion with a Russian Federation delegation in Tshwane. The Minister was accompanied by Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane.

The discussion focused on strengthening bilateral relations between South Africa and Russia in the areas of mining, agriculture, energy, machinery, diamonds and mineral fertilisers production.

Russia 90-day mutual visa waiver agreement

Minister Radebe called on the business sector to seize opportunities of trade and investment created by the 90-day visa waiver agreement between Russia and South Africa for ordinary passport holders.

“This agreement was meant to give greater impetus and leverage to increased business-to-business as well as people-to-people contact. It envisaged as an outcome increased and exponentially better prospects for two-way economic trade and growth between our countries,” said Minister Radebe.

SA Pamodzi Group CEO Ndaba Ntsele echoed Minister Radebe’s sentiments, saying the visa waiver between SA and Russia presents a gold mine for South African businesses as it eliminates red tape for potential investors. 

Trade between South Africa and Russia

Total trade between South Africa and Russia increased from R5 billion in 2012 to almost R8 billion in 2016.

Major South African exports include fruits and nuts, manganese ores, beverages, spirits and vinegar, wine, electrical machinery and equipment. Over 40 bilateral agreements in various areas of cooperation, including in Science and Technology, Defence, Mining and Mineral Resources, Energy, Agriculture and Justice have been signed between the two States.

Investment a two-way street

The South African business delegation in attendance at the roundtable raised concerns on investment leaning towards Russia and not being equally beneficial. In response to these concerns, the Russian Minister for the Development of Far East Russia, Alexander Galushka, said Russian companies would find their niche and invest.

“Russian investors are working all over the world. If there is good profitability, then they will come to South Africa. A lot of companies would like to work in South Africa. I am sure that they will find their niche but this is about business and profitability,” said Minister Galushka.

Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane allayed the concerns of business representatives and urged them to engage on how they, together with government, can organise themselves and travel to Russia to gain skills and invest. –

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