Western Cape Strengthens Trade Relationship with BRICS Countries


Event Africa Contributor 30/07/2018 Industry News

Aligning with President Ramaphosa’s call for increased trade between BRICS nations, Wesgro’s Trade Promotion Unit has actively been pursuing trade ties between Cape Town and the Western Cape and Brazil, Russia, India and China.

As set out in the unit’s plans for the year ahead, engagement with BRICS  counterparts is already a significant focus for Wesgro.

Commenting on the strategic significance of this collective priority market, Wesgro CEO, Tim Harris, commented: “South Africa’s membership of BRICS  gives us an important seat at the table among some of the biggest and fastest growing economies in the world. We welcome the steps that have been taken over the last few weeks to further strengthen economic cooperation between the BRICS  group. It is noteworthy that intra-BRICS exports have significantly increased in recent years, and indeed it is important now to start focussing on growing value-added trade within BRICS. A number of BRICS networking sessions and  events are being planned for Cape Town and the Unit will engage the BRICS Business  Council with regard to this.”

The following are some of the trade engagements with BRICS countries for  the current financial year:

This month, the South African Footwear and Leather Export Council  (SAFLEC) in collaboration with Wesgro and the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC), supported 12 South African companies exhibiting at the Francal – 50th International Shoe and Accessories Fashion Fair in Sao Paul, Brazil. Showcasing footwear and handbags of traditional African design, meetings were also facilitated with various Brazilian importers, buyers and distributors for products such as wine, fruit juice and food products from the Western Cape.

Wesgro Trade, in partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry (dti), will attend World Food Moscow from 17-20 September. The dti facilitates South African participation at World Food through a National Pavilion. Wesgro has participated in the exhibition for the last two years with a large contingent of Western Cape companies in the agro-processing (food and beverages) sector exhibiting.

Following successful engagements that took place on the sidelines at the 2016 BRICS meetings hosted in India, An Outward Selling Mission (OSM) to the country is scheduled for the second quarter of this financial year, to meet with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). FICCI’s Assistant Secretary General for Africa paid a return visit to Cape Town last year and expressed interest in a 3-year engagement plan being developed between FICCI and Wesgro Trade.

A major focus for the unit in the current financial year is increasing wine exports to China. A 3-year Joint Marketing Plan signed between Wesgro and WOSA (Wines of South Africa) in August 2016, has seen the two organisations undertaking collaborative events with the Chinese market to create awareness about South Africa wines in the market. In May this year, Wesgro Trade Promotion and WOSA hosted a wine tasting and pairing event in Shenzhen, China to showcase SA wines under the theme “South African Wine Meets Chinese Cuisine”. Seventeen wine stakeholders (importers, media and wineries) attended the event, with the overall strategy aimed at selling wines as an experience and a discovery, encapsulating the food, wine and tourism experience in the Western Cape. The unit is currently working with WOSA to promote the 2018 CapeWine show scheduled to take place in September. Thus far, it is confirmed that the unit will be hosting over 15 Chinese wine buyers and lifestyle media representatives.

The efforts have been made to strengthen ties with BRIC countries is evident across the mandates at the Agency. Our Investment Promotion unit (IPU)  has undertaken efforts to prioritise engagements with key BRICS markets, in accordance with available research highlighting investment trends between the countries.

Accordingly, China and India have been identified as key potential source markets for investment. The IPU team conducts regular engagements with both markets, through undertaking regular outward investment promotion missions into the market – raising awareness of investment opportunities to Chinese and  Indian businesses and hosting business delegations from China and India. In Quarter  1 of this financial year, the IPU hosted 4 business delegations from China. The efforts of the unit have borne fruit with companies such as Hisense [China] and  VVF Life Sciences [India] choosing to establish their businesses in Cape Town and the Western Cape.

Similarly, Wesgro’s Film and Media Promotions unit continue to seek synergies with BRICS countries. Last month, the team was able to facilitate meetings with industry players from Brazil, Russia, India and China at the Annecy  Film Festival in France. The unit also attended the recent BRICS Film Festival in Durban, where Western Cape produced film 5 Fingers for Marseille was featured along with The Whale Caller which was shot in the province.

Executive Mayor, Patricia de Lille, said: “As a key economic region in  South Africa, it is vital that Cape Town and the Western Cape strengthens its efforts to promote and grow trade between ourselves and the rest of the BRICS  member states. Playing a greater role in attracting trade and investment during and after this summit is line with our mission to let the world know that we are open for businesses and through more proactive engagement, we must find new partnerships and strengthen existing trade relations to further grow our export market and in turn our local economy. I share Wesgro CEO, Tim Harris’  sentiments in that South Africa has a seat at a table of key global partners  and we must exploit all opportunities to create more jobs and opportunities for  our people.”

Further stressing the importance of this market, Minister of  Economic Opportunities, Alan Winde, commented: “Our trade relationships with our BRICS partners are an important part of growing our economy and creating jobs,  especially in the agriculture, agri-processing and tourism spaces. Wine exports to China have grown by 109% since the introduction of this Project Khulisa goal, and we’ve seen excellent growth for our wines in Russia over recent years. Western Cape citrus and grape exports also perform very well in many of the BRICS markets and India is a major source of foreign direct investment for the Western Cape.  We also welcome thousands of visitors from these  tourism markets every year, so expanding trade ties and developing the  relationships we have with these partner nations, is a top priority for  the Western Cape.”

In a final comment, Denan Kuni, Head of International Trade and  Development at Wesgro added: “There is a need to further engage the BRICS  Business Council in order to access opportunities and funding mechanisms under the BRICS framework such as the New Development Bank (NDB) that was recently established. The NDB has been given $50 billion in initial capital. The capital base is to be used to finance infrastructure and sustainable economic development projects in the BRICS countries”.