27 June 2012
Switzerland is a key partner for investment in South Africa, having invested around R17-billion and created over 13 000 jobs in the country over the last decade, says Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies.
Davies was speaking to journalists in Pretoria on Sunday on his return from an official visit to Zurich, during which he held talks with his Swiss counterpart, Federal Councillor Johan Schneider-Ammann, addressed a Swissmem Industry Day, and met with SwissCham Southern Africa and potential investors.
Davies said his message to the Swiss government and business fraternity was that Africa was ready for massive growth. At the same time, he stressed that the continent had to prioritise industrialisation and regional economic diversification to ensure sustainable growth.
Davies noted that Switzerland ranked as the seventh-largest foreign direct investor to South Africa.
“Since 2003, Switzerland has invested in about 30 projects in South Africa, with direct investment volume estimated at R17-billion over the period 2003-2012,” he said, adding that Swiss investment projects in SA had created an estimated 13 200 jobs in the country.
These projects were spread across a range of industrial sectors, including financial services, metals, industrial machinery, equipment and tools, and food and tobacco.
In his meeting with Schneider-Ammann, Davies said South Africa’s black economic empowerment (BEE) policy was being refocused towards the development of enterprises and skills development, as this would lead to the reduction of unemployment, as well as create growth opportunities for black owned enterprises.
South Africa’s US$2-billion contribution to the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF’s) firewall was welcomed by the president of SwissCham Southern Africa, Georg Umbright.
“The world needs Africa for sure in the next 10 to 20 years,” Umbright said. “We can’t do without Africa, and the main motor of southern Africa is South Africa.
“We are glad that Minister Davies has such a strategic view of how to develop trade amongst the countries of SADC and also on the larger scale.”
Umbright expressed confidence that there would be more Swiss industries coming into the country.
In the five-year period ending in 2011, South Africa’s exports to Switzerland showed an upward trend, 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.