11 July 2014
The government remains committed to developing and growing South Africa’s automotive sector, President Jacob Zuma said at the unveiling of Chinese company First Automotive Works’ new truck manufacturing plant outside Port Elizabeth on Thursday.
The R600-million factory, based in the Coega industrial development zone, will produce 5 000 trucks a year once it is running at full capacity, and 3 500 cars a year following a second phase of development.
Zuma said the government’s Vision 2020 strategy for the automotive industry aimed at doubling local vehicle production and extending and deepening component manufacture by 2020.
Part of this involved positioning South Africa as a destination of choice for the assembly of truck and buses, he said, and to further this objective the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) had completed preparatory work on a new investment support scheme for manufacturers.
The DTI recently published, for public comment, guidelines on the Automotive Investment Scheme for Medium and Heavy Commercial Vehicles – an extension of similar schemes already in place for passenger vehicle and minibus taxi manufacturers.
Zuma said that First Automotive Works had chosen the right continent on which to invest at this point in history.
“The African continent is home to some of the fastest growing economies in the world, and there remains greater potential for further growth, particularly in the transport of goods, as trade volumes increase,” he said.
“The entire African continent is also embarking on an intensive infrastructure development aimed at also encouraging inter-Africa trade through improved connectivity.”
The East African Community (EAC), Common Market for Eastern and Central Africa (COMESA) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) are in the process of negotiating a free trade area that will bring together 26 countries with a combined population of 600-million and an overall GDP of approximately US$2-trillion.
“To further support intra-regional trade within the continent, a Trans African Highway programme has been established to link Africa’s capitals on eight major routes.”
Zuma said the government would continue to provide support to the private sector and global companies based in the country “so that they can take advantage of opportunities and help us to promote job creation and a better life for our people.
“The economy is an apex priority in our country during this term of government,” he said. “We have decided to place the economy on the centre stage because we believe that sustainable economic growth is possible if we seek meaningful partnerships locally and worldwide.
“Growth is also possible if we, as government, actively support our partners in the private sector to create a positive environment for business to thrive. We are therefore looking forward to fruitful partnerships in the next five years.”