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KwaZulu-Natal ready for BRICS economic integration

2023-08-21 09:55:23

The commitments from the BRICS countries to invest in infrastructure projects in Africa, will be critical for the development of the continent, and especially facilitate the ease of doing business, says Nomalungela Gina, Deputy Minister of the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition.

Delivering the keynote address at the BRICS/KZN Trade and Investment Seminar, Gina said investors in Brazil, Russia, India and China and South Africa have shown interest in African infrastructure projects, particularly in the transportation, energy, and telecommunications which are drivers of economic growth and regional connectivity.

The seminar held in Durban on 17 August, was the last leg of the dtic’s Inward Buying Investment Missions (IBIM) hosted in all provinces. Trade & Investment KwaZulu-Natal (TIKZN) was the implementing partner tasked coordinating this crucial event which was part of the BRICS Summit Business programme ahead of the 15th BRICS Summit in Johannesburg from 22-24 August.  This year the Summit was chaired by South Africa for the third time, under the theme: “BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development, and Inclusive Multilateralism”. “This IBIM platform, is to bring businesses together across BRICS partners in an effort to enhance stronger economic co-operations, share corporate experiences and best practices within ourselves as a BRICS bloc. For us as South Africa, we also see ourselves as a gateway to the African market,” said Gina.

The seminar was a platform for facilitating meaningful connections between international buyers and relevant South African partners, fostering business collaborations and expanding market access. To this end, a more than 40 strong business delegation from the BRIC countries, was able to sit in business-to-business meetings with local producers with the hope of forging business collaborations.

A message of support from Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA) MEC Siboniso Duma was delivered by Thabane Zulu, CEO of the Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone (RBIDZ). “KwaZulu-Natal’s long-term success lies in the integration of our economy with economies of the countries in the BRICS bloc. We regard this Seminar as a platform on which synergies between the economy of KZN and economies of member nations will be strengthened. Through TIKZN, we have therefore arranged KZN based companies and our own emerging entrepreneurs to be part of the seminar. We have emerging entrepreneurs from KZN who will showcase their products in the exhibition alongside the seminar. We want our entrepreneurs to establish links with their foreign counterparts and to find buyers for their products in countries in the BRICS bloc,” said Zulu.

This is part of efforts to address existing trade balance between Africa and the rest of BRIC countries as improvement of continental exports to the BRICS bloc will improve the growth position of the Africa, whilst providing a market as net importer from the same countries. This mutually beneficial trade relationship must be underpinned by openness and trust said TIKZN Board member Derek Naidoo. He reminded seminar attendees that this was one of the objectives of BRICS. The establishment of the New Development Bank (NDB), was therefore, a milestone accomplishment of the BRICS partnership. “the NDB saw the strengthening of intra-BRICS cooperation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Aside from matters of strictly trade, co-operation between BRICS countries is also achieved among government-affiliated institutions, civil society and people-to-people in areas of culture, education, and technology,” he said.  The Bank was established to provide financial assistance to emerging economies for infrastructure and sustainable development projects and has shown interest in financing projects in African countries. Businesses seeking funding for their major projects were encouraged to make funding applications to the NDB, and those seeking to export manufactured goods from the continent, pointed to Afreximbank.

Zahir Amien from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), cautioned that BRICS partners must ensure that infrastructure investment occurs in a sustainable manner, and encouraged the building multilateral agencies.

Local business was represented by the Durban Chamber of Commerce, whose President Prasheen Maharaj, said the  identification of priority catalytic projects that will stimulate stability and growth, therefore restoring the local economy. “There must be rapid provision of services, including the expediting of planning approvals and infrastructure development and we must have enough budget allocation for that.”

The eThekwini Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda, committed to this in his welcoming address, saying; “it was crucial to unblock challenges for investment opportunities within the eThekwini Municipality and that this should happen in a timeous manner in order to assuage whatever doubts investors may have.”

The seminar, facilitated by TIKZN CEO Neville Matjie, also included panel discussions on KZN point of entry and opportunities and Invest SA One Stop Shop (OSS) and Regulatory Environment Support, as well as testimony of a KZN investment project success Nyanza Light Metals.

On the second day of the seminar the BRIC delegates visited the  Durban Port, Durban Cruise Terminal, Dube TradePort and Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone.

New Development Bank: https://www.ndb.int/

Afreximbank: https://www.afreximbank.com/


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