SA seeks investment from Asia, Mideast

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South Africa hosted the Asia-Middle East Investment Seminar in Cape Town on Thursday, with the aim of seeking investment from the regions.

“We aim to cover all the provinces in due course,” Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Marius Fransman, told delegates at the seminar, which focuses on investment opportunities in the Western Cape province.

Fransman urged participants to put the seminar in the larger global trade and investment context.

Citing figures from the Keyser Centre for Economic Research, he said that in 2030, emerging markets will constitute 74% of global GDP — Africa 7%, Asia 44%, Latin America 10%, Central and Eastern Europe 3%, Commonwealth States 4%, and the Middle East 4%.

“So what we can say with certainty is that we are in the right place, and heading in the right direction as an intrinsic part of the emerging economies of the world and our strategic BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) partnership,” Fransman said.

Speaking of investment opportunities in the Western Cape, he said the province was considered a leader in the renewable energy sector, being the first province to have a Sustainable Energy Strategy and a Policy for Solar Water Heaters.

To ease the strain on energy demand currently, the province has set itself renewable energy targets of 15 percent by 2014.

The Western Cape and Cape Town are ideally placed to service the growing demand for oil because they are geographically close to West Africa, and offers well-developed infrastructure as well as cost-efficient engineering capabilities, Fransman said.

Most international exploration and oil refining firms have a presence in the City of Cape Town, he added.

Tourism was another important sector that offered opportunities to potential investors, said Fransman.

The province, including Cape Town, was the main leisure tourism destination in South Africa and was home to the majority of the top tourist attractions in South Africa.

These tourist attractions range from natural attractions such as Table Mountain and Cape Point to historical and cultural attractions such as Robben Island.

Opportunities in agriculture

Turning to agriculture and agribusiness, Fransman said these sectors were among the most important sectors in the Western Cape, and involved all the different activities that linked the entire value chain from the farm/forest/fishery to the consumer. This includes inputs, production, processing, marketing and distribution of agricultural, forestry and fishing products.

As many as 11 commodities contribute significantly to agricultural production, with fruit, poultry/eggs, winter grains, viticulture and vegetables together comprising more than 75% of total output.

Moreover, the province and Cape Town boast of their creative industries, Fransman said. The main sectors comprising the creative industry include graphic design, advertising, film, video and animation, music, performing arts, among others.

“This exciting sector in the Western Cape and Cape Town is a melting pot of creativity, attracting foreign and local investors and merging international trends with local creative culture. In 2011, Cape Town was awarded the 2014 Design Capital of the World,” he said.

More than 100 representatives from Asian and Mideast diplomatic corps attended the two-day seminar.

South Africa has been hosting a series of trade and investment seminars to expose the economic opportunities in South Africa to its trade partners. Up to this stage, similar seminars had taken place in KwaZulu-Natal, Free State and North West.