The Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Ebrahim Patel says the South African government is committed to working in close partnership with the private sector to achieve the country's national goals. Minister Patel was speaking to businesspeople at an interactive sessions hosted by Business Leadership South Africa in Sandton today. The meeting was also attended by the Deputy Ministers of Trade and Industry, Ms Nomalungelo Gina and Mr Fikile Majola.
The engagement provided an opportunity for a dialogue between business and government on opportunities to reinvigorate the South African economy and increase levels of fixed investment and job creation.
As government, we recognise the critical role that business, both big and small, plays in growing the economy of this country and creating job opportunities. The new administration has placed an even stronger emphasis on the partnerships between business and labour, and between government and its social partners. We need to get these partnerships working better to ensure that the economy grows and to deal with various challenges that affect the economy, said Patel.
He added that economic challenges in the country were manifesting themselves in various sectors such as construction and manufacturing, particularly in steel.
The country's growth levels are well below what is needed to achieve our development goals. These conditions call for coordination between government and business to lift the rate and inclusivity of growth. We will use the talents of all South Africans, including the expertise in the private sector to strengthen the implementation capability of the state, Patel said.
He highlighted six areas of focus that the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition will be prioritising in the next five years. These are improving the industrial competitiveness and performance, expanding markets for the country's products, increasing levels of investment, promoting greater levels of economic inclusion, initiating equitable spatial and industrial development, and increasing the capabilities of the state.
The cross cutting theme underscoring these focus areas is how we will work together with various stakeholders like business and labour to achieve our goals. Our immediate task at hand is to grow our economy which generates R5 trillion-rand worth of Gross Domestic Product output annually. We need to work together in ensuring that this economy grows at the kind of level that does not only generate taxes that government needs, but also the jobs that are absolutely critical, and ensure that more South Africans are included. This growth can create opportunities for more entrepreneurs to ensure that more South Africans come into the economy as owners and creators of wealth, noted Patel.
He also describes the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), as a game changer that will fundamentally transform the South African industrial story line.
The AfCFTA, which comes into effect in July next year with tariff-free trade in 90% of goods, represents an enormous opportunity for industrial expansion but it also carry big risks too, he said.
It depends on what we do now as a country to ensure industrial readiness for the free trade area, he said.
Source: Department of Trade and Industry