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French, SA companies encouraged

South Africa - France

French and South African companies have been encouraged to work together to ensure the industrialisation of South Africa and the African continent.

Speaking at a business forum on the sidelines of the state visit by French President Francois Hollande to South Africa, Trade and Industry Minister, Dr Rob Davies, said though France was among the country’s top five partners in the European Union (EU), a lot more still needed to be done.

“A lot of work needs to be done to recover the trade relations that the two countries shared before the global economic crisis,” said Davies on Monday.

France is among South Africa’s top 10 trading partners. The two countries have significant and sizeable trade and investment relations.

Davies said what needed to be improved were the partnerships between the two countries in industrialisation.

He said the African continent was recognised as one of the growing frontiers in the world and that the African region needed to integrate.

“One of the priorities should be regional integration because as a continent we are divided into many smaller markets. It is important to generate a market for industrialisation to address the real economic issues that make it hard for industrialisation – one of which is infrastructure,” said Davies.

South Africa is engaged in a massive infrastructure programme, with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) also having infrastructure programmes which should be the basis for industrialisation.

The Minister of Foreign Trade in France, Nicole Bricq, said French companies based in South Africa understood South Africa’s commitment to redress the inequalities of the past and respect the regulations of the country.

She said foreign trade could be enhanced by better knowledge of each other. French companies based in South Africa, she said, have been able to respond to the needs of South African citizens.

“Many South African companies export goods from France, which boosts exports for our country. South African companies should also be encouraged to invest in France in order to restore balance in trade with the EU. If South African companies come, this will reduce the deficit and increase employment – which is a common concern for both countries,” she added.

The day also saw the two ministers agree to revive the Joint Economic Committee (JEC) between South Africa and France.

The JEC was established in 1995 to promote and strengthen trade and industrial co-operation in the respective economies. It provides a structured and predictable framework for evolving complementarities into high value added trade investment sectors. – SAnews.gov.za

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