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Johannesburg, 20 August 2017 – Southern African countries must align their priorities in order to set the region’s manufacturing sector on a sustainable growth path, Steel and Engineering Federated Industries of Southern Africa (SEIFSA) CEO Kaizer Nyatsumba said today.

Speaking at a time when the SADC Head of State summit is taking place in South Africa, Mr Nyatsumba said it was crucial that countries in the region facilitated easier trade with one another in order to ensure that the SADC region was much more commercially integrated and offered a bigger market for its products and services. With companies in SADC countries producing for the entire region and not only for their respective domestic markets, unit production costs are likely to be lower and capacity utilization higher, Mr Nyatsumba said.

He said that was likely to improve these companies’ international competitiveness.

“Ensuring that manufacturing in Southern Africa is internationally competitive” is one of the topics at the third Southern African Metals and Engineering Indaba to be held from 14-15 September 2017 at the IDC Conference Centre in Sandton.

Speakers in that session include Metals, Engineering and Related Industries Sector Education and Training Authority (merSETA) CEO Dr Raymond Patel, Manufacturing Circle CEO Ms Phillipa Rodseth, Africa House Director of Projects and Development Finance Paul Runge and Aurik Business Accelerator CEO Pavlo Phitidis.

Mr Nyatsumba said regional economies continued to battle against limited cross-border industrial linkages, over-reliance on primary products with limited scope for value adding and beneficiation, as well a low intra-regional trade.

“The Southern African Development Community (SADC) must come up with policies that are in line with the continent’s ambition to transform from natural resources to value-adding and industrialised economies. This calls for the development of coherent and implementable industrial policies by the respective regional economies,” Mr Nyatsumba said.

He added: “It is a matter of concern that, despite various efforts to stimulate trade among SADC countries, intra-regional trade is still relatively low. SADC countries must  boost intra-regional trade in order to expand their respective Gross Domestic Products, while stimulating the competitiveness of their manufacturing industries.”

Lack of political will has often been blamed for the low levels of regional trade because political leaders have failed to address a number of critical factors hindering cross-border trade and economic integration, he said. The barriers included slow and costly custom procedures and high transport costs.

“An ambitious regional integration agenda must be driven at a political level because political will is key if we are to quicken the pace of the regional trade harmonisation in SADC and Africa as a whole. There must be a collective political willingness to move in the same direction. Unfortunately, notwithstanding various efforts, large-scale regional trade and economic integration remain elusive,” Mr Nyatsumba said.

Now in its third year, the annual Southern African Metals and Engineering Indaba will also feature sessions focusing on:

  • Political Leadership in Southern Africa: Does it Advance or Hamper Economic Growth?
  • The Continental Free Trade Area: A Reality Before The End of 2017?
  • Winning Together: Can Government, Business and Labour Conclude a Social Compact in the interest of Labour Stability and         Foreign Investment?
  • The Automotive Production and Development Programme and the South African Metals and Engineering Sector
  • The Future of Collective Bargaining
  • Do Steel Import Tariffs Benefit or Hurt the South African Economy?

More information on the multi-stakeholder conference which brings together captains of industry, labour leaders and policy makers can be found on www.meindaba.co.za.

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