Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu has assured Qatari investors that as South Africa drives its radical economic transformation programme, the country is still the right place in which to invest.
Addressing the South Africa-Qatar Business Forum in Pretoria on Wednesday, Minister Zulu said radical economic transformation is necessary to achieve South Africa’s development targets.
“We make sure that for anybody who comes to invest, that their investment is protected. However, we do say that in that process, there has be an understanding that if we are to change the imbalances of the past, we have to in an orderly fashion begin to address those challenges. We have a Constitution that protects the rights of all, including those who are coming in to South Africa to invest.”
Minister Zulu said the historical fact that the majority of black people in South Africa were dispossessed of their land is something that cannot be shied away from if the country is to build a just and equitable society, where peace, security and stability prevail.
She emphasised that South Africa has strong institutions of governance, from Parliament, the judiciary and financial institutions.
She said there were several areas where investors could partner with South Africa, especially in oil and gas and the oceans economy under Operation Phakisa.
She conveyed President Jacob Zuma’s desire for the two nations to deepen their economic partnership, which accentuates the role of the private sector.
“As South Africa, we are looking for investment but we are also looking at investing, which is a two-way process, as well as cross-border projects on the continent. The continent is on the move.
“I urge you to participate in exhibitions and trade fairs [to foster] awareness of our respective countries’ potential [to] facilitate flows of Foreign Direct Investment to [help us] eliminate poverty, inequality and unemployment. These are major challenges facing South Africa,” Minister Zulu said.
Minister Zulu assured that South Africa is dealing with the recent credit rating downgrades.
“I can tell you that we are ready to deal with the challenges we find ourselves in… Government, the private sector and our communities [will] work together to weather the storm. It is going to be a very difficult period for us, we know that well.
“One thing we can assure you of, is that we weathered the storm prior to 1994 and we will weather the storm even now,” she said.
The Minister said, meanwhile, that in line with the commitment to radical economic transformation, government will ensure that there is adequate participation of black entrepreneurs, especially women and youth in the economy.
President Zuma on Tuesday hosted the Emir of the State of Qatar, His Highness Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani. The Emir is on a two-day State visit to South Africa. The State visit aims to deepen and strengthen the already existing good political, economic and social relations between South Africa and Qatar.
Trade and investment ties
Qatari Minister of Economy and Commerce Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim bin Mohammed Al-Thani said there are opportunities that exist to create trade and investment ties between the two countries.
Qatar, which has massive oil and gas reserves, has had a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of around 4% in the last two years, despite the low prices of oil and gas.
“We have a strong and robust economy. Over the past year, we have developed infrastructure in our country,” he said, adding that investors can benefit from Qatari economic zones.
In addition, an investor friendly public-private partnership framework has been developed.
Qatari exports to South Africa were $345 million in 2016, while South African exports to Qatar were at $105 million.
The Qatari Minister said South African investors can also use Qatar’s location as a hub for agricultural exports, not only to Qatar but to the Middle East and Asia, among others.
Total trade between South Africa and Qatar has increased from R4 billion in 2012 to R7 billion in 2016.