Switzerland is the "key partner" for investment into South Africa‚ says Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies.
Davies has just returned from an official visit to Switzerland where he held bilateral talks with his Swiss counterpart‚ addressed the Swissmem Industry Day and met with the SwissCham Southern Africa and potential investors.
Davies' message to the Swiss government and business was that Africa was the next growth frontier. However‚ he stressed that in order to realise this‚ the continent needed to prioritise industrialisation and regional economic diversification‚ according to the department of trade and industry (dti).
During the bilateral meeting with his counterpart Federal Councillor Johann Schneider-Ammann‚ Davies said that the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) policy was being refocused towards the development of enterprises as well as skills development.
According to Davies‚ this would contribute towards the national objective of reducing unemployment‚ especially amongst the youth‚ and the creation of opportunities among black-owned enterprises for growth.
Schneider-Ammann welcomed the refocus of the B-BBEE policy‚ according to the dti.
Davies said that Switzerland was the seventh largest foreign direct investor to SA.
"Since 2003‚ Switzerland has invested in about 30 projects in SA‚ with direct investment volume estimated at R17-billion over the period 2003-2012.
"Switzerland investment projects in SA are distributed across a broad range of industrial sectors; including financial services‚ metals‚ industrial machinery‚ equipments and tools‚ food and tobacco‚ pharmaceuticals‚ plastics‚ software and IT services. In addition‚ investments created an estimated 13 204 jobs in SA‚" Davies said.
The president of SwissCham Southern Africa‚ Georg Umbricht‚ welcomed SA’s US$2-billion contribution to the International Monetary Fund’s firewall‚ according to the dti.
"The world needs Africa for sure in the next 10 to 20 years. We can’t do without Africa and the main motor of Southern Africa is SA‚" Umbricht said.
"We are glad that minister Davies has such a strategic view of how to develop trade amongst the countries of SADC and also on the larger scale. We are very confident that there will be more industries coming into SA because of the programmes that are put in place‚" he said.
SA's exports to Switzerland showed an upward trend over the five-year period ending in 2011‚ with the exception of 2010.
Before visiting Switzerland‚ Davies visited the US where he signed a new Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) aimed at deepening the bilateral economic relationship. The new pact updated a TIFA signed in 1999.