The Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Ms Elizabeth Thabethe says South Africa has increased its efforts to boost intra-Africa trade and economic integration and cooperation on the continent. Thabethe was addressing more than 200 people businesspeople from South Africa and Zimbabwe at the business seminar held in Bulawayo today. The seminar was part of the Investment and Trade Initiative that Thabethe is leading to Zimbabwe. It started in Harare on Monday and will end tomorrow.
“Intra-Africa trade and economic integration and cooperation are receiving a significant amount of attention lately. The rationale behind this is that the broadening of economic space through larger consumer markets gives developing countries such as South Africa and Zimbabwe the opportunity to develop economies of scale, increase their competitiveness and become global competitors in their various fields of expertise,” said Thabethe.
She added that it was against this background that the South African government, through the Department of Trade and Industry, has adopted a bilateral strategy for economic engagement with Zimbabwe in line with the partnership strategy that it has adopted for the whole continent.
“The main objective of the strategy is to achieve mutual economic growth and development through outward investment facilitation, infrastructure development and trade liberalisation. The strategy adheres to the principles of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development and aims to mediate the historical marginalisation of the African continent in the global political economy,” said Thabethe.
She emphasised that the SA government was consistently working towards close collaboration with its partners on the continent to tackle a range of key challenges including infrastructure development, increasing skills, accelerating industrialisation while simultaneously improving product diversification in the continent’s various economies.
“It is our firm belief that regional economic integration is a critical element in deriving optimal benefit from our deepening partnerships. We are committed to partnering regional governments to assist in unlocking the latent economic potential that exists in many of our countries and enhancing regional economic cooperation. And this commitment is reflected in various economic cooperation agreements that South Africa has concluded in recent years, such as the Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement between South Africa and Zimbabwe,” said Thabethe.
The Deputy Minister of Economic Planning and Investment in Zimbabwe, Dr Samuel Undenge urged the South African businesspeople to make use of the investor-friendly one-stop investment centre that his government has established to make doing business in Zimbabwe easier for businesspeople.