Trade and Industry Deputy Minister Bulelani Magwanishe has urged Tunisian and South African business people to increase trade with one another.
Speaking at a South Africa-Tunisia business seminar in Tunis on Monday, the Deputy Minister said the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) is leading an Outward Trade and Investment mission to Tunisia, as part of efforts to increase trade.
“The purpose of this mission is to facilitate interaction between South African and Tunisian companies with a view of establishing mutually beneficial commercial relations. At the heart of this lies the bilateral trade and investment between the two countries, which are currently disconcertingly low,” he said.
“Our economic relations are characterised by a trade deficit. Trade between South Africa and Tunisia remains low despite growing from R431 million in 2011 to more than R500 million in 2017,” said Magwanishe.
The seminar was part of the mission organised and funded through the dti’s Export Marketing and Investment Assistance (EMIA) scheme.
He urged business people from the two countries to take advantage of the historically strong and cordial political relations to collaborate and partner to increase the levels and volumes of bilateral trade and investments.
“This mission serves as an opportunity to strengthen trade relations. The pursuit of the above underscores our commitment to build dynamic economic relations. We hope that this mission will provide South African companies with a platform to introduce their products into the Tunisian market, and to also serve as a gateway to North Africa,” he said.
The mission, he said, provides Tunisians with an opportunity to introduce their products and services to the South African companies and share ideas on investment opportunities that they can jointly take advantage of in South Africa.
“Additionally, the mission combines our efforts towards job creation, alleviating poverty and eradicating inequality,” added Magwanishe.
South Africa, he said, is also keen to advance intra-African trade while also fostering closer trade and investment ties with countries on the continent.
“South Africa has always insisted on building developmental and mutually beneficial partnerships with the rest of Africa. We equally appreciate that sustainable growth and development can only be achieved through dynamic partnerships with the private sector.
“For instance, extensive collaboration between the public and the private sectors can yield infrastructure that is critical for the ease of [doing] business.”
The trade mission, which kicked off on Sunday, will conclude on Thursday