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Global participation: Eastern Cape exports reach R14,5bn in Q1 2023

Home Transport & Logistics Exports & Imports Global participation: Eastern Cape exports reach R14,5bn in Q1 2023

EASTERN Cape exports to the rest of the world improved to R14,5 billion in the first quarter of 2023 compared to R13,5 billion in the fourth quarter of 2022.

Speaking at the 5th instalment of the Eastern Cape Export Symposium in East London last Thursday, Eastern Cape premier Lubabalo Oscar Mabuyane says these figures indicate that the province is building a strong case to be a preferred investment destination and a preferred trading partner on the continent. Eastern Cape trade with the rest of the world continues to grow while South African trade figures declined over the same period.

“For example, the outlook for the first quarter of 2023 indicates that Europe remains the Eastern Cape’s top trading partner with the value of trade at R7,7 billion with 53% market share representing growth of 2%. The other top trading continents with the Eastern Cape are Asia at R2,7 billion with a market share of 19% which translates into growth of 24%. Trade with Africa was R2,3 billion with a market share of 16% registering 6% growth,” says Mabuyane.

Hosted by the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC) ahead of the BRICS Summit being held this week, the two-day export symposium is one of the tools the province uses to showcase its export capabilities to local, national, regional and international trade representatives. It also provides the Eastern Cape export role-players with first-hand information on export opportunities, updates on export support resources and incentives.

The attendance of trade and business delegations led by the BRICS countries has resulted in path-breaking global attention for the region. The two-day conference featuring an exhibition and match-making meetings, was attended by global trade role-players, including the secretary general of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), His Excellency Wamkele Mene.

Economic representatives from South Africa’s Pan-African trading partners, the EU, UK and USA were present, in addition to an Inward Buying Delegation, comprising delegates from Brazil, Russia, India and China. The two-day conference included global policy-makers and local commentators addressing developments and opportunities in South Africa’s key trade agreements including BRICS, Africa Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA), AfCFTA and EU trade.

“The strategic relations we have built with the BRICS economic bloc, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, European Union, African Continent, United States, United Kingdom, including many other markets, are a testament that the Eastern Cape is soon realising its export potential,” said Mabuyane.

Delivering the keynote address at the symposium, the secretary general of the AfCFTA, Wamkele Mene said the symposium focussed on how the Eastern Cape can effectively participate in the accelerated implementation of the AfCFTA by creating intra-regional trade value chain integration.

“With respect to the implementation of the AfCFTA, the Eastern Cape has an advantage to grow the province’s contribution to the African market in that it occupies the coastline and has two of the biggest Special Economic Zones in South Africa, namely Coega and East London IDZs. I expect that this forum will come up with recommendations for the utilisation of the “untapped potential for exports from the Eastern Cape,” he said.

“This is important because AfCFTA marks a new era of trade between African countries, with the continent producing the goods and services it needs, where its economies will grow, industrialise and diversify, and realise the great potential of its abundant natural resources. A recent study by the World Bank, for example, estimates that with full implementation of the AfCFTA, the continent could gain additional income of 9% or US$571 billion and up to 50 million people could be lifted out of extreme poverty by 2035,” said Mene.

ECDC chief executive officer Ayanda Wakaba said the symposium was aimed at developing new markets and partnerships for trade, citing “untapped potential for exports from the Eastern Cape”.

On the Eastern Cape specifically, the ECDC notes that the province is the country’s biggest lemon producer, exports more than half of light vehicles produced in South Africa, has the largest percentage of the country’s livestock, produces more than 15 million kilograms of wool a year and supplies more than half of the world’s mohair.

“The attendance of local, national and international trade representatives provides a unique opportunity for the region to build relationships and showcase our export capability. It also provides our export role-players with first-hand analysis and updates on the resources, incentives and opportunities for trade with new and existing trade partners.

“Specific focus is being placed on understanding the physical opportunities to capitalise on up-to-date supply chain shifts and trade agreement developments including AfCFTA, Africa Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA), BRICS and trade with the EU and UK,’’ Wakaba said.
On the strong representation from BRICS, he noted that over 17% of South Africa’s exports are to BRICS while 9% of its total imports are from BRICS.

“As chair of BRICS in 2023, South Africa will pursue the potential for growing trade and investment, as well as intra-African trade and investment, while advancing the benefits of the AfCFTA.

“The AfCFTA creates a predictable environment for investments by South Africa’s BRICS partners, particularly in infrastructure development. South Africa will be looking at building a partnership between BRICS and Africa to unlock mutually beneficial opportunities for increased trade, investment and infrastructure development. BRICS institutions have a significant role to play here as major investment in infrastructure is required to operationalise the AfCFTA and to unlock the benefits of the Continental market,” Wakaba said.

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