Prime Minister Theresa May,
UK Minister for Trade Policy, Mr George Hollingbery
South African Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies,
UK Trade Envoy for Africa, Mr Andrew Selous,
Esteemed business representatives,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to welcome you here today.
I would like to extend a word of thanks to Mr Jacques Celliers and FNB for hosting us in this venue today.
After several years of poor growth, limited investment and constrained public finances, the South African economy is starting to show signs of revival.
This is taking place alongside a process of political and economic renewal, which aims to restore the credibility of our public institutions, tackle corruption and wastage and strengthen the capacity of the state.
Earlier this year, we announced an ambitious investment drive that aims to generate at least $100 billion in new investment over the next five years.
This drive will culminate in an Investment Conference on 25-27 October, which will bring together investors both from within South Africa and from other parts of the world.
We are looking forward to welcoming British investors to this Conference, both those who have long been invested in South Africa looking to expand their operations and those who would be investing here for the first time.
We are encouraged by the fact that the UK is one of the largest foreign investors in the South African economy with more than 650 British firms present in the market.
This means that there are many British business leaders who have a good understanding of the South African market and recognise its potential, and who are also able to identify constraints to growth and development.
They would know that the South African government is working alongside its social partners in business, labour and civil society to build a new and inclusive growth path for South Africa.
We are improving the investment environment by, among other things, ensuring policy certainty and consistency, improving the performance of state owned enterprises and consolidating fiscal debt.
Our approach is informed by the understanding that we cannot achieve sustained economic growth or enduring social stability without ensuring more South Africans are able to participate in the productive economy.
That is why broad-based black economic empowerment is a key government policy aimed at addressing the racial and gender imbalances of the past while unlocking the human potential of our people.
We have recognised that these policies may prove difficult for foreign multinational companies to navigate.
Minister Davies and his team at the Department of Trade and Industry stand ready to assist investors where clarity is required and to develop implementation strategies for multinationals through the equity equivalent programme.
We have embarked on a programme of accelerated land reform to ensure that this fundamental resource is equitably shared among all South Africans, that the agricultural sector is transformed, that urban spatial distortions are corrected and that the economic potential of the country’s land is unlocked.
There is a vibrant and healthy debate underway within society on the circumstances under which land reform should take place.
This presents us with an opportunity to strengthen the property rights of all our people, to provide certainty to investors and to our people, and to achieve consensus on a land reform programme that will contribute to economic growth, job creation and the reduction of poverty.
We are determined that whatever measures we take to effect land reform do not undermine the economy.
Government has taken steps to tackle the problem of corruption within both public and private institutions.
These include measures to correct governance failures at certain key state owned enterprises, ensure those involved in graft are held to account and strengthen law enforcement agencies.
Our government is working earnestly to restore South Africa’s sovereign ratings to investment grade status by, among other things, bringing policy certainty in areas such as mining, telecommunications and energy.
In recent months, for example, we have finalised long-outstanding renewable energy independent power producer projects, released the long-awaited Integrated Resource Plan on energy for public comment and held stakeholder engagements towards the finalisation of the Mining Charter.
Through my four investment envoys and the efforts of a dedicated division of the Department of Trade and Industry, Invest SA, we are scaling up our investment promotion, facilitation and aftercare services.
We see foreign direct investment as a critical driver of economic growth.
It contributes to the expansion of a country’s productive capacity through the transfer of technology, knowledge, job opportunities, human capital and production processes.
That is why the government is aiming to generate at least half of all new investment over the next five years from outside our borders.
We are committed to enhancing investor confidence and positioning South Africa as one of the leading emerging market investment destinations.
We are committed to improving the investment climate and the ease of doing business in South Africa.
I am confident that through engagements of this nature – by working together in pursuit of common goals – we will succeed in building business partnerships that contribute to inclusive growth and shared prosperity for all.