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Speech by Daryl Swanepoel, Convenor of the ANC Progressive Business Forum, delivered at the South Africa - US Business Networking Session held in Chicago, USA

1 July 2014

This is the first time that the Progressive Business forum is visiting the United States.

We are here as guests of the Rainbow Coalition where we have been discussing trade and investment between America and the Africa,

And specifically how to increase the flow of business between our regions.

We are also here to seek business linkages in both trade and investment.

Africa, and South Africa in particular, has a huge range of opportunities.

Ranging from mining, to agriculture, to energy, the green economy, business processing, tourism, manufacturing, a diverse range of opportunities.

South Africa is a stable economy, has good economic infrastructure, a world class banking system, government processes that work, an independent, respected and effective judiciary.

The very nature of investment involves risk, but South Africa is a country where one can calculate that risk and one can know that your investment is at least safe from non-normal business risk.

Now is a good time for American enterprises to enter South Africa.

The global economy has embarked on a growth trajectory.

That opens up markets for South African goods and services.

For the raw materials with which we are blessed.

The South African government will over the next five years be spending R3,5 trillion Rand on infrastructure development, mainly in energy and rail.

That in itself creates opportunities for American enterprises, but so too does the downstream economic chain.

Massive locomotive orders have recently been placed, the contracts have gone in the main to China.

We have an enterprise here that manufactures component parts for that project.

But there`s a lot more scope, there`s the rail network itself, there`s the coaches, there` the signalling, etc.

And through joint ventures with South African enterprises tasked with manufacturing component parts for the locomotives, American enterprises can still benefit from those as well.

But apart from that there are whole new arenas opening up, I mentioned power, and if American enterprises wish to position themselves to also benefit from those opportunities, they need to curtail their Afro-pessimism and accept that
Africa is the new economic frontier that competes as equals on the global market.

If they don`t accelerate their pace of assessment, others will beat them to the post.

Africa is growing, Africa needs development, it will develop with or without America.

We want America to have its fair share of economic opportunity in our country, and we therefore invite US enterprises to speed up their hunt for opportunity in Africa.

In South Africa you will find willing partners,

Receptive policies, and a range of FDI incentives.

And partners that that are hungry to succeed.

But the key word is partners.

We do not seek simple exploitation - minerals extracted and shipped abroad.

Or a one-way flow of goods into South Africa.

We need to process those minerals in South Africa.

And manufacture products in South Africa.

The key word is beneficiation.

We are seeking mutually beneficial relationships, where both sides of the economic equation benefit from the investment being made.

So that in a nutshell:

South Africa is open for business.

It has good economic infrastructure.

Your investment is safe in our country.

There are many opportunities.

Our only condition is that it must be a win-win solution.

We want the investment to expand the value-adding processes that create jobs in our country.

One last point:

South Africa has a population of just over 50 million.

But it is also the gateway into Africa.

It is part of a customs union, and there are accelerating processes to create a free trade area that will expand a duty-free market, which will give access to a common market in excess of 500 million people.

That`s meaningful.

And the time has never been as ripe as it is now for US enterprises to invest.

Many have, and they haven`t looked back

With those few remarks I would like to get the show on the road.

I would like to thank the South African Consulate for putting this event together, for the general support they have given.

On a personal note it has been great for me to once again touch base with Her Excellency, not so long ago a colleague Vuyiswe (Tulelo) who`s smiling face in the corridors of Luthuli House is now sorely missed.

Your Excellency thank you for the support; and I would also like to say that your staff have been great collaborators.

We appreciate their hard work.

We have been fortunate to have the KZN delegation in town as well; MEC Dube your contribution at the conference yesterday made the South African delegation proud and we are glad that you and your team are with us today.

One quick issue, on a lighter note though, is that of Nigeria now being the largest economy in Africa to which you gave a quick jab yesterday - remember South Africans that we remain by far the largest per capita economy in Africa -and in anyone`s book that is a far more important measurement, because that is your wealth measurement, and it is one which Nigeria will not match anytime soon.

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