TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

SA Govt Plans to Draw US Investors to Local Textile Industry

Thursday, 03 July 2003

Source: Business Day

SA's Government says it plans to build on efforts made at a US-Africa business summit in Washington last week to attract US investors to the domestic textile and clothing sector.

Contrary to government's expectations, US companies had not invested in SA or its customs union partners as a result of the Africa Growth and Opportunities Act (Agoa), said Trade and Industry Deputy Minister Lindiwe Hendricks at a media briefing on the summit yesterday.

The initiative had attracted investments from numerous other countries, including Germany, Malaysia and China, said Hendricks, but not from the US.

She could not say why this was, but potential investors in the US needed to be educated about the region. "Many don't know about Africa," she said.

Government planned to encourage US business delegations to visit the region. Hendricks said the idea would be to present "ready-made" projects in which they could invest.

Agoa had led to trade between SA and the US almost tripling, and exports from SA to the US rising substantially, she said.

Hendricks believed the extension of Agoa beyond 2008, which was being investigated by the US, would be approved. US President George Bush said during the summit that the programme would be extended beyond 2008. "He basically instructed them (the US government) to extend it."

Hendricks also used the visit to encourage US investment in other sectors such as agro-industry, information technology, services resulting in technology transfer and market access for agricultural products.

She explained "in detail" the rationale behind government's black economic empowerment programme to potential investors at the summit. Hendricks said the concept was not unfamiliar to US companies. They were not concerned about this, said Hendricks, but wanted to know whether black empowerment requirements applied to foreign investors.

Hendricks also met the US chief negotiator in free trade talks with the Southern African Customs Union (Sacu), Florizelle Liser.

The summit was used "to sensitise US interest to support a balanced outcome of the Sacu-US free trade agreement," she said.