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Remarks by President Cyril Ramaphosa of the Republic of South Africa at the SA-UK Business Roundtable in London during the State Visit to the United Kingdom

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The Right Honourable Kemi Badenoch, Secretary of State for International Trade,
Minister Ebrahim Patel, Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition,
Mr Andrew Selous, the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy for South Africa,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
 
Thank you all for taking the time to engage with us on the opportunities for greater commercial and economic partnerships between the United Kingdom and South Africa.
 
Most of the firms represented here today will have a fairly detailed knowledge of South Africa, its challenges and its enormous opportunities.
 
Many of you are actively invested in our economy, some for many decades.
 
You will know the attractions of South Africa.
 
These include market access.
 
Aside from the size of the domestic market, South Africa has free trade agreements with the United Kingdom and European Union.
 
We have preferential access to the United States market, through the Africa Growth and Opportunities Act, or AGOA.
 
Over the past four years, we have been putting in place an African Continental Free Trade Area that will connect 55 national economies and more than 1.3 billion people.
 
The legal instruments have been completed and countries and customs unions are now finalising their tariff offers, with the intention that trade would commence next year.
 
A number of UK companies have attended the annual South Africa Investment Conferences that we have held since 2018 and made significant new investment commitments.
 
Bilateral trade is at its highest yet, with goods and services worth £10.7 billion being traded between the United Kingdom and South Africa in the 12 months ending in June this year.
 
Exports from South Africa to the UK are estimated to support 134,000 South African jobs.
 
The UK is the largest foreign investor in South Africa, and several South African companies have a presence here in the UK.
 
It is our intention and our ambition to substantially increase the value and diversify the composition of both trade and investment.
 
While there are many attractions and huge potential for investors in South Africa, there a number of constraints on economic growth and social development.
 
For more than a decade, South Africa has been confronted with a shortage of electricity.
 
We have taken urgent steps to remedy this dire situation by significantly and rapidly increasing the construction of new generating capacity.
 
We have accelerated the procurement of renewable energy and have removed many of the regulatory hurdles to greater private investment in embedded generation.
 
We are working closely with the power utility, Eskom, to improve the performance of their fleet of power stations.
 
We are undertaking far-reaching reforms to improve the capacity and competitiveness of railways and ports, to open up our telecommunications industry and to improve the supply and pricing of water.
 
We have established mechanisms like the Infrastructure Fund to leverage funding from various sources, including the private sector, for substantial infrastructure investment.
 
We have taken decisive measures to tackle crime and corruption.
 
Our law enforcement agencies are being rebuilt and are being provided with the resources needed to prosecute those responsible for the criminal capture of state institutions.
 
We are strengthening the ability of our police and other security services to respond to economic crimes, such as extortion and damage to infrastructure.
 
It is important for the South African government to understand the issues, concerns and expectations of British companies and business leaders.
 
We are therefore keen to hear from you on what we can do to encourage you to increase your investment in South Africa.
 
In which sectors do you see greatest potential for collaboration?
 
What partnerships are you exploring where you may need our help?
 
If you are involved in the South African market, what has been your experience of doing business there?
 
I look forward to a useful discussion that will take forward our efforts to strengthen the economic ties between our two countries.
 
I thank you.