21 June 2012
South African Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies arrived in Zurich, Switzerland on Wednesday to attend a session of the SA-Switzerland Joint Economic Commission.
Meetings of the commission, which aims to strengthen economic relations between the two countries, take place alternatively in Switzerland and South Africa. The last session was held in Pretoria in March 2010.
Davies is due to hold talks with his Swiss counterpart, Federal Councillor Johan Schneider-Ammann, to address a Swissmem (Swiss association of mechanical and electrical engineering industries) Industry Day, and meet with SwissCham Southern Africa and potential investors.
Davies said his visit was important to both countries, as Switzerland was one of South Africa’s major trade and investment partners in Europe.
“In 2011, Switzerland was ranked as the eighth largest export destination for South Africa in the world,” Davies said earlier this week. “Moreover, Switzerland ranks as the seventh largest foreign direct investor in South Africa.
“Since 2003, Swiss firms have invested more than R17-billion of capital expenditure into projects in South Africa.”
South Africa’s exports to Switzerland show an upward trend over the five-year period ending in 2011, with the exception of 2010.
“Total exports from South Africa to Switzerland increased over this period from R8.8- billion in 2007 to R21.2-billion in 2011,” Davies said. “This constitutes an annual average growth rate of 30% over this period.”
He added that Switzerland, as a member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), offered good opportunities for South African exporters, who benefitted from the free trade agreement between EFTA and the Southern African Customs Union.
In 2011, 3% (R21.2-billion) of South Africa’s total exports to the world were destined for Switzerland, while 73% of Switzerland’s total imports from the African continent were sourced from South Africa.