The US-South Africa Trade and Investment Executive Dialogue on September 18 built on partnership efforts and saw the launch of a yearly US-South Africa Trade and Investment Forum. The dialogue also explored how this Trade and Investment Forum can benefit growing US-South Africa commercial ties.
The dialogue was hosted by business organisation Business Unity South Africa (Busa) and the US Chamber of Commerce Africa Business Centre (USAfBC) on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. President Cyril Ramaphosa attended the dialogue.
“More than 600 US businesses are operating in South Africa. I invite more US companies to invest and build manufacturing and other productive facilities in South Africa and share in the opportunities in our economy and the fast-growing African market,” Ramaphosa said.
“The partnership between the USAfBC and Busa adds to the private sector’s existing efforts to strengthen our countries’ economic bonds and to expand South Africa's role as an economic hub in Africa,” he added.
“The opportunity is ripe for US and international investors to be part of South Africa’s growth efforts in a partnership between business and government, to put the country onto a sustainable growth path and optimise its potential,” Busa CEO Cas Coovadia said.
“The memorandum of understanding between Busa and the USAfBC, and the launch of the Trade and Investment Forum, demonstrates how partnership is so key to prioritising and promoting our countries’ shared growth and prosperity,” he said.
The US Chamber of Commerce has organised a record number of meetings and events on the sidelines of the seventy-eighth session of the United Nations General Assembly to help foster public-private collaboration and underscore the indispensable role of the private sector in realising the United Nations' global targets. It has arranged 24 high-level conversations with top government representatives, including heads of State and government, from countries including Brazil, Nigeria, South Africa and Türkiye.
“In 2019, the USAfBC committed to double US commercial and foreign direct investment in South Africa by 2025. The dialogue, under the theme of 'An Agenda for Accelerating Economic Growth’, is organised in a collaborative spirit. We look forward to further elevating our partnership in South Africa this November at the next annual US-Sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum, or African Growth and Opportunity Act Forum, meeting,” said USAfBC President Scott Eisner.
Business leaders face global challenges to grow their companies and provide a return to investors. The global challenges include climate change, which is reshaping policy agendas and firm-level strategies, technological innovation, including the rise of artificial intelligence, and more complex geopolitics that are characterised by heightened tension between global powers leading to fragmentation, hostility and increasing protectionism, said Ramaphosa.
“For South Africa, a divided world is not good. We are a trading nation, with above average trade-to-gross domestic product ratios, and a significant part of our economic growth is driven by exports,” he said.
Global prosperity has been founded on greater levels of openness and engagement between nations and people. Multilateralism has served humanity well, he added.
“In recent decades, a more open, rules-based trading system, complemented by deeper levels of cross-border investment, has helped to sustain and grow global gross domestic product. It has helped to increase employment in many countries and spur innovation and new technologies.
“While the rules have not always been appropriate for many developing economies, particularly on the African continent, they are better than unilateralism and the exercise of might. It is better to change the rules and make them fairer,” Ramaphosa said.
“The US remains a very important economic partner in trade and investment, with great potential to further expand economic ties.”
Further, the availability of critical raw materials in South Africa and its neighbouring countries is driving efforts to expand high-value manufacturing.
“This is a real opportunity for more US investment that can leverage off the demonstrated manufacturing base of South Africa.
”Additionally, African growth rates provide a stable growth in aggregate demand over the next decade and more, with growth projected to rebound to 4% in 2023 and consolidate at 4.3% in 2024, thereby underpinning Africa’s continued resilience to shocks,” he noted.
“Africa is endowed with 30% of the world’s mineral resources and 65% of the world’s uncultivated arable land, the world’s most productive forests in timber and carbon retention resources, and ample solar, wind and hydropower resources.”
Meanwhile, South Africa is working on ways to expand the greening of its economy. This includes renewable energy generation, proposed green hydrogen pilot projects and the development of a roadmap for electric vehicle production.
“Africa is ready for new investment and strong partnerships. South Africa is well positioned with deep capital markets, the rule of law, protection of property rights and a dynamic and youthful population,” Ramaphosa said.