All of us have a duty to promote foreign investment

Thursday, May 10, 2018

By Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies 

The new era of hope, inspired by the spirit of “Thuma Mina (or Send Me”) that was evoked by President Cyril Ramaphosa during his State of the Nation Address in February is reverberating across our nation. It has a brought with it a sense of renewal that is moving our economy forward and has ushered in greater confidence in the country as an investment destination of choice.

The government is building on this renewed wave of optimism by starting a cycle of investment that will attract more than R1 trillion over the next five years. In this regard, we have moved quickly to reverse the strain in investment sentiment and local business confidence of the last few years by creating an environment for investment to flourish.

At the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) last month, Ramaphosa said: “Government is initiating measures to set the economy on a new path of growth, employment and transformation. We are moving swiftly to restore the credibility, stabilise the finances, and improve the operational performance and governance at state-owned companies.”

In kicking off our investment drive, President Ramaphosa met with British Prime Minister Theresa May on the side-lines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting on deepening our partnership around economic matters. Britain has committed R858 million over the next four years to support our work of making the country more attractive to investors.

To showcase our frontiers of investment, President Ramaphosa has appointed four special envoys to engage both domestic and foreign investors. They include former Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, former Finance Deputy Minister Mcebisi Jonas, Executive Chairperson of Afropulse Group Phumzile Langeni and former Standard Bank Chief Executive Officer Jacko Maree.

They will take our investment story, which includes new opportunities in the green economy, oil and gas, shipbuilding, oceans economy and renewable energy, to global investors in a focused and cost-effective manner.

Their ultimate aim is to reverse the decline in foreign direct investment from 24 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2008 to around 19 percent today. Our National Development Plan has set a target of foreign direct investment in the country at 30 per cent of GDP.

The envoys will travel to major financial centres in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the Americas to meet with potential investors. They will also seek out investors on the continent.

Conference

The envoys drive will travel to a major financial centres in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the Americas to meet with potential investors. They will also seek out investors on the continent.  The investment drive will culminate in a major investment conference towards the end of the year.

The conference, which will involve domestic and international investors, will report on actual investment deals that have been concluded. In addition, it will provide a platform for would-be investors to seek out opportunities in the South African market.                                        

The government is doing all it can to draw in more investors so that it can grow employment, reduce poverty and turn the economy around. We believe these investments will contribute significantly to our national goals of rapidly growing the economy and support socio-economic development. They begin a cycle of employment and consumer demand.

The responsibility, however, to create an environment that attracts inward investment is not government’s alone. South Africans, as shareholders in the country, have a vested interest in promoting the country in a globally competitive environment.

We should never lose sight of the positive attributes that make our country an investment destination. They includes our stable democracy, sound financial system and highly regulated banking sector. Investors are supported by world-class infrastructure, exciting innovation, research and development capabilities, and an established manufacturing base.

In a bid to cut red tape, work is underway to rationalise and streamline investment regulations and reduce the cost of establishing and running businesses. For example, our InvestSA One Stop Shop brings together all government services in one place for prospective investors who want to set up a business. It offers a streamlined registration, administrative and authorisation process to quickly get businesses off the ground.

Increased investment in manufacturing and related sectors is being targeted through more effective use of industrial incentives, Special Economic Zones and local procurement requirements.

More opportunities are being created for new market entrants through our competition policy, preferential procurement measures, and expanded support to small and medium-sized businesses.

In the spirt of “Thuma Mina” let us use every opportunity to profile South Africa and share our investment offerings with the world.  To be part of our investment success requires each one of us, in the words of the late great Bra Hugh Masekela in his song ‘Thuma Mina’, to boldly proclaim “send me”.

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