South Africa is open for business and ready to forge beneficial bilateral relations with its partners in Côte d'Ivoire.
These sentiments were shared by delegates at the South Africa-Côte d'Ivoire Trade and Investment Business Forum hosted by the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the DTIC) on Friday.
President Cyril Ramaphosa hosted his Côte d’Ivoire counterpart, President Alassane Ouattara for a state visit to South Africa.
Addressing the delegates, Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) Head of Continental Coverage, Phiwe Marumo, said South Africa and Côte d’Ivoire have historically enjoyed strong relations, both economically and politically.
“But we also acknowledge there is a lot more that needs to be done to improve and enhance a mutually beneficial commercial relationship that can be leveraged between the two countries.”
Marumo said the bilateral trade has been consistent at more than R2 billion between 2017 and 2021, except in 2019 when bilateral trade fell under a billion.
“I am certainly sure and agree that this is a low end and that more still needs to be done to increase our bilateral levels to an equitable level that reflects the partnership and opportunity spectrum that certainly has been provided by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) going forward.”
South Africa’s main exports to Côte d'Ivoire between 2016 and 2020 consisted of value-added products such as machinery, vehicles, base metals, plastics and vegetable products whilst imports from Côte d'Ivoire were dominated also by goods such as plastics, prepared foodstuffs, wood and articles of wood and vegetable.
“In 2020 alone, despite challenge brought by COVID-19, we achieved exports to Côte d’Ivoire over R1.8 billion that was achieved during that time.”
She also announced that both countries were in a process of putting together an appropriate enabling framework that will assist collaboration efforts around economic opportunities and strengthen partnerships in their stated objectives.
She also hoped that the engagements would further deliberate on the practical solutions to the challenges including rising costs of goods, high inflation and imminent global recession, as both nations explore innovative financial solutions.
Meanwhile, the Black Business Council Vice President, Gregory Mofokeng, urged both countries to work together to create a prosperous continent.
“I want to assure businesspeople from Côte d'Ivoire that South Africa is open for business and ready to form strong mutually beneficial benefits for Africa’s economy in general.”
Mofokeng also raised concerns about African business people finding it easier to trade with companies outside of the continent.
“Business needs to work hard together to ensure that the vision is implemented to achieve the objectives of AfCFTA.”
The CEO of the Centre for the Promotion of Investments in Côte d'Ivoire (Cepici), Solange Amichia, said the country has a new National Development Plan (NDP) and pushing to reduce poverty to 30% by 2025.
“President Alassane Ouattara is adamant to accelerate his economic and social transformation. He wants Côte d'Ivoire to become an upper-middle income country by 2030.”
Côte d'Ivoire Chamber of Commerce and Industry President, Faman Toure, also emphasised the importance of close cooperation and the establishment of a strong partnership between South African and Ivorian companies to increase two-way trade and investment.
“The country is rolling out an NDP that is centred on industrialisation and beneficiation, which means that there are unlimited business opportunities for companies from both countries to take advantage of,” he added. – SAnews.gov.za