SA explores trading opportunities with south countries

Friday, October 9, 2009

Sao Paulo - President Jacob Zuma says South Africa, and other African countries, have begun exploring more trading and export opportunities with countries in the South.

He said while South Africa had primarily been an exporter of raw materials to Europe and north America and its main trading partners have been the countries of the North, this was starting to change.

"Africa is beginning to explore the potential for trade and investment among countries of the South. More than ever before, the nations of the developed and developing world are considering how best to work in concert as Africa's partners," said Zuma.

The President said additional ties were being forged through gatherings like the Africa-South America Summit which was recently held in Venezuela. "Africa is finding new partners among the emerging economic powerhouses of the South," he said.

It was not surprising that African countries had established trade and investment cooperation framework arrangements with countries from Asia and South America because of the tremendous opportunities for investors across the globe, he said.

Zuma was speaking at the South Africa - Brazil Roundtable Business Forum on Thursday where he is on an official state visit.

He is accompanied by a South Africa a delegation representing 45 companies interested in expanding both trade and investment relations in Brazil. The areas of interest include sectors such as energy, information technology, mining, finance, infrastructure and pharmaceuticals.

While South Africa is now among the biggest investors in sub-Saharan Africa, in sectors such as mining, electrical power, financial services and telecommunication, Brazil is the driving economic force for the South American continent.

"This makes the relationship between our two countries important not only for the advancement of our own national interests, but also for the broader development of the regions in which we find ourselves."

He said the relationship could only further stimulate dynamic engagement between South America and Africa.

"South Africa and Brazil should undertake more collaborative projects. We should use our respective positions as entry points into each other's continents."

While bilateral trade between South Africa and Brazil reached $2.52 billion in 2008, which is an increase of 10 percent over the previous year and South African exports to Brazil have been growing at a steady rate for the past six years, there was still room for improvement.

"There is clearly great potential for South African products to find markets in Brazil," said Zuma.

He described Brazil as a pioneer in the way it had tackled its developmental challenges, using the establishment of a home-grown pharmaceutical industry as an example. "This has had a profound impact on the country's efforts to improve the health of its people."

The President urges South African companies to learn from such examples, and to seek partnerships with Brazilian companies to exploit the many opportunities that now arise.