• John Battersby
UK country manger for Brand South Africa
+44 207 002 7114
• South Africa possible new BRIC member
• SA-China trade ties to strengthen
• Trade show to boost India-SA ties
• South Africa, Rusiia sign uranium deal
• SA opens at 2010 Expo Shanghai
As the shift in global economic power gains momentum, South Africa’s trade is moving eastwards and southwards in a pattern that both reflects the worldwide trend and helps drive it.
This year alone South African President Jacob Zuma has paid official visits to India, Russia, China and Brazil. Earlier in 2010 China became South Africa’s largest two-way trading partner and, in August, China became the world’s second-largest economy after the US.
Visiting China earlier this year, international relations minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane announced that South Africa was lobbying China to become part of the global club of high-growth developing markets known as BRIC – Brazil, Russia, India and China.
This underscores South Africa’s significance as a leader in Africa, a bridge between the industrialised and developing worlds. That the much smaller South African economy could join four mega-economies in BRIC reflects growing global investor interest in Africa, the last frontier of the global economy.
With a population near 1-billion, Africa is the world’s third-largest market after China (1.3-billion) and India (1.1-billion) and is rich in mineral and natural resources.
While South Africa aims to maintain its substantial trade and investment links with the US, Japan and the European Union, the reality is that these markets’ growth has been severely slowed by the global economic crisis.
High-growth developing economies and the next tier of emerging markets – such as the Civets (Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey and South Africa) – are likely to lead growth in the medium to long term, with slower growth in developed economies.
At a UN conference in Beijing in September, trade minister Rob Davies said South Africa would prioritise China and India for exports as the two countries were now its biggest markets. He said “sluggish growth” in the US and the European Union, South Africa’s traditional trading partners, was a factor in shifting export priorities.
Two-way trade between China and South Africa grew to US$16.8-billion (R116-billion) last year, according to South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry, while South Africa’s exports to India reached $700-million (R4.8-billion) and imports totalled $280-million (R1.9-billion), in favour of South Africa.
Zuma’s statements during his China visit reflect this shift in trade. He said the country would look to China for investment in infrastructure projects such transport, renewable energy and mining, as well as in agriculture and car manufacturing.
China’s pace of investment has been slow so far, but it has been strategic, paving the way for accelerated future investment.
In 2007 the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China bought 20% of South Africa’s Standard Bank for $5-billion (R35-billion) – China’s largest foreign investment to date. China is currently in talks with South Africa’s government to build a $30 billion high-speed rail network between Durban and Johannesburg.
The growing relationship with China is likely to both boost South Africa’s global trade and accelerate African development.
Since Deng Xiaoping began opening its economy in 1979, China has lifted 400-million people out of poverty with growth close to 10% for more than 25 years. South Africa’s world-class financial sector and deep experience in African markets make it well-placed to lead similar miracle in Africa.
John Battersby is UK country manager for the International Marketing Council of South Africa.
- Download South Africa Now in PDF format (2.2 MB), or read selected articles online:
Powering towards a green economy
South Africa plans to build a massive $21.8-billion, 5 000 MW solar park in its semi-desert Northern Cape province as part of an aggressive push to grow its highly industrialised economy without increasing its carbon footprint.
The everyday beauty of Soweto
South African photographer Jodi Bieber has a special ability to bring out the beauty in the ordinary, even the disfigured. On the cover of Time magazine she made a mutilated Afghani girl look beautiful, and in her latest book Soweto she makes everyday township life shine.
Launchpad to a billion consumers
By offering to acquire Massmart for some $4.2-billion, Wal-Mart has joined the parade of global companies looking to South Africa as a springboard into what is increasingly seen as the world’s last great investment frontier.
A trek to the start of time
It will probe the edges of our universe. It will be a virtual time machine, helping scientists explore the origins of galaxies. It’s the Square Kilometre Array, and South Africans are at the heart of its development.
Brewing up a global brand
Miller Lite. Tastes great. Less filling. And brought to you by world-beating South African company SABMiller.
Looking south and east for growth
As the shift in global economic power gains momentum, South Africa’s trade is moving eastwards and southwards in a pattern that both reflects the worldwide trend and helps drive it, writes John Battersby.
More than just a celluloid Mandela
There is a special bond between Hollywood actor Morgan Freeman and the man he played in the Clint Eastwood movie Invictus, South African statesman Nelson Mandela.
Africa in the new world order
Kgalema Motlanthe, South Africa’s deputy president, looks at how African economies’ resilient performance during the global financial crisis points to the continent’s new place in a changing world.
Mining history for new solutions
Mark Cutifani, CEO of the multinational AngloGold Ashanti mining company, examines why South Africa’s past is key to successfully doing business here in the future.
Turning up the media volume
Since 1990, South Africa has been a noisy place. After decades of apartheid censorship, the lifting of restrictions on the media led to a cacophony of debate. For the first time in centuries, everyone could be heard, and it was sometimes deafening, writes Anton Harber.
A joule of an energy-efficient car
South Africa, which builds BMWs and Mercedes Benzes for the US market, is in the thick of the race to deliver a truly practical – and stylish – electric car. Meet the Joule.
South Africa: Time to believe
The forgiving philosophy of “ubuntu” helps explain how South Africa managed to transcend its turbulent apartheid past and create a unified democracy, writes Simon Barber.
Finding sound real estate investment
South Africa’s post-apartheid transformation and new middle class are fuelling demand for affordable homes. For private equity fund International Housing Solutions, that means opportunity.
My normal, crazy, mixed-up country
South African hit movie White Wedding is now showing in the US to rave reviews. Jann Turner, who directed and jointly wrote and produced the film, writes about the place that inspired it – South Africa.
Bring on the braai
All South Africans love it – including Nobel peace prize-winning Desmond Tutu – and its rich, smoky smell floats over the country every Sunday. Celebrate the braai with our great recipe for making boerewors, traditional South African farmer’s sausage.