Ramaphosa vows to improve investment environment for US companies after talks with Biden

Published date:
Sunday, 18 September 2022
Lisalee Solomons

There was agreement on the need to create a more attractive environment for American companies to invest in South Africa.

These are just some of the sentiments echoed by President Cyril Ramaphosa as he concluded his official working visit to the United States at the invitation of US President Joe Biden.

Ramaphosa landed on Thursday in Washington DC, in the United States of America. 

The two leaders deliberated on a range of critical issues of national, regional, and global importance during their bilateral meeting, where trade, investment, global peace and stability, health, as well as climate change, and the just energy transition were discussed.

Speaking on trade and investment Ramaphosa said there was agreement on the need to create a more attractive environment for American companies to invest in South Africa, where an estimated 600 US companies are already doing business in a range of sectors. 

A joint task force on trade and investment will be established to expand bilateral economic ties. 

Next year South Africa will host the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum which will map the next phase of Africa-US trade.

Ramaphosa welcomed the United States' further commitment to improve bilateral trade and investment volumes, which will create much-needed jobs and economic growth in the country.

Concerns were raised by Ramaphosa regarding tariffs levied by the US on South African steel and aluminium products, which South Africa, "... views as unfair and punitive".

Just Energy Transition

The leaders affirmed their commitment to the Just Energy Transition and agreed that South Africa will require more funding to achieve an effective and just transition, that leaves no one behind and that protects workers and communities that would be affected by the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy. 

It's understood that the work on the investment plan for the Just Energy Transition Partnership between South Africa, the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, and the European Union is expected to be completed by the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 27) in November 2022 in Egypt.

Regional Stability and Global Security

Global security and stability discussions focused on the insurgent attacks in Mozambique. 

Ramaphosa acknowledged the assistance currently being provided by the US in responding to the insurgency threat in Mozambique. Ramaphosa called for more US support in the provision of skills and resources to, "... counter the terrorist activities that are causing great suffering in Mozambique and threaten the stability of the SADC region".

Food Security in SA

Africa's food security featured prominently in the meeting with both Heads of State. 

"Following on from the discussions at the G7 meeting held in Germany this year, there is consensus on supporting Africa's efforts towards fertilizer manufacturing, which will bolster Africa's independence in ensuring the continent's food security," said Ramaphosa.

Malign Russian Activities Bill

Ramaphosa raised concern about the Countering Malign Russian Activities in Africa Bill, which is currently before the US Congress. He said that if it becomes law, the Act will unfairly marginalise and punish African countries for exercising their sovereignty in their pursuit of development and economic growth.

He also emphasised the need for an urgent end to the Russia-Ukraine conflict and emphasised the leadership role of the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres can provide in leading a peace process.

Health and Capacitation of Health Systems

Ramaphosa expressed appreciation for US support in health services capacitation and future pandemic preparedness. This includes the continued support for the PEPFAR programmes to combat HIV/Aids and Tuberculosis, and support during the Covid-19 pandemic.

He also applauded the leadership role played by President Biden in assisting developing economies to strengthen their health systems, and for support on the WTO TRIPS waiver on vaccine manufacturing.

United Nations Reforms and Multilateralism

Africa's representation in key multilateral institutions was highlighted by Ramaphosa which includes the proposal for Africa's admission through the African Union (AU) into the Group of 20 countries (G20).

"The absence of representation of 1.3 billion people from Africa in the United Nations Security Council remains a blight in the global democratic order," said Ramaphosa. 

Both leaders agreed on the need for broader reforms of the United Nations.

Building Capacity of the State

A proposal for a partnership with the US in supporting South Africa's efforts to develop public servants, especially women was tabled by Ramaphosa.

In this regard South Africa's National School of Government will work closely with leading American institutions in designing training programmes for South African public servants.

The President's spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said that ahead of the meeting with Biden, Ramaphosa met the United States Vice President Kamala Harris at her official residence, where they discussed women's empowerment, health and security, partnership on technology and space exploration.


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