Special Economic Zone Board clarifies Atlantis SEZ matter

Monday, May 8, 2017

Pretoria - The Special Economic Zones Advisory Board has dismissed inaccurate reports regarding the processing of the application to designate a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Atlantis in the Western Cape Province.

In a statement on Sunday, the chairperson of the SEZs Advisory Board, Dr Julian Naidoo, said the messaging carried in various media sources over the last few months appears to be aimed at applying undue pressure on the Advisory Board and ultimately forcing Trade and Industry Minister Dr Rob Davies to designate the Atlantis SEZ.

The Special Economic Zones and Industrial Parks programme are run by the Department of Trade and Industry (dti). SEZs are geographically designated areas of a country that are set aside for specifically targeted economic activities.

Naidoo says the disinformation spread attempts to portray potential victimisation and prejudice towards the Western Cape Province.

The proposed Atlantis SEZ is one of 10 initiatives agreed to by the Economic MinMEC, which comprise of the Ministers of Trade and Industry, Economic Development, Small Business Development and the provincial MECs responsible for Economic Development.

The SEZ Advisory Board advises the Minister of Trade and Industry on whether to designate or not to designate a proposed SEZ.

“This advice is based on a range of commercial, technical and legal considerations whose purpose is to ensure the long-term economic viability of the proposed SEZ and also compliance with relevant legal requirements,” said Naidoo.

Technical Sub-Committee of the Advisory Board has considered the application for the designation of the Atlantis SEZ and concluded that there are technical weaknesses and legal compliance challenges that had to be addressed.

“Instead of advising the Minister not to designate based on these weaknesses, the Board advised and gave the province the chance to address these weaknesses. In addition, the Department of Trade and Industry has provided both technical and financial support to the province to assist it to address these weaknesses.

“Both the SEZs Secretariat  and the Technical Sub-Committee have met several times with the Province and have taken proactive steps to provide succinct feedback to resolve outstanding issues,” said Naidoo.

He further says the final recommendation to Minister Davies to approve or decline the application for the designation of the proposed Atlantis SEZ will be based on the commercial, technical and legal merits and in particular, on whether the province has addressed the weaknesses identified.

These principles apply to all applications for the designation of special economic zones.

Naidoo added that the SEZ Advisory Board has a legal duty to discharge its responsibilities on the basis of commercial, technical and legal requirements, and cannot and will not succumb to external influences.

The SEZ Advisory Board is committed to efficiently reviewing and recommending SEZ applications, which meet stipulated requirements and are aligned to the economic development objectives of the country. – SAnews.gov.za

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