March 5, 2017: The Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC) says a 14 member business and trade delegation to the province led by South African Ambassador to Tunisia Mandla Hoyana and Tunisian Ambassador to South Africa Narjes Dridi has resulted in various commitments to increase trade between the parties.
On Sunday 26 March, the Province welcomed a Tunisian trade and business delegation which was facilitated by official investment and trade promotion agency, the ECDC.
The delegation was composed of businesses in a range of sectors such as food and beverages, aquaculture, textiles, agro-processing, oil and gas, transport, automotive, ICT and metals. The delegation held wide ranging discussions on matters of mutual interest between the Eastern Cape and Tunisia at the East London IDZ, as well as business to business discussions with the business chambers in East London and Port Elizabeth.
“The mission came at the behest of Ambassador Hoyana for the Eastern Cape to organise a trade mission to explore investment and trade opportunities in the Eastern Cape. As the official investment and trade promotion agency of the province, ECDC took the administrative responsibility for arranging the mission.
“Discussions between businesses, public sector players and the delegation revolved around information sharing and expertise, skills in the fields of customs regulations and incentives as well on the ease of doing business in the respective regions. We were able to explore with the Tunisians areas of common interest and cooperation as well as the exchange of human resources and skills,” says ECDC Head of investment and trade promotion Thabo Shenxane.
Shenxane who assumed his new role in January says the location of Tunisia along the Mediterranean Sea creates another opportunity for our own ports to collaborate within the space of cargo movement particularly with the Port of Ngqurha.
“By the same token, the Eastern Cape with all its natural endowments and agricultural opportunities especially within the space of aquaculture and the ocean economy, it presents an opportunity for market supply all year round of products because of the alternate seasons between Tunisia and the Eastern Cape. We can grow crops alternatively and this can be a basis for regional cooperation with the Eastern Cape providing access to the SADC region for the Tunisians whilst also providing access for the Eastern Cape in North Africa,” he says.
The significance of this trade mission is that the Eastern Cape now has opened further channels to gain access to the North African market with Tunisia as the gateway. Currently the Eastern Cape is a net importer of goods from Tunisia.
“Tunisia is the largest market of source in the North Africa region of Eastern Cape imports and holds a share of 57,90% of total Eastern Cape imports in 2016. The Eastern Cape’s top export commodities to North Africa between 2012 – 2016 include wool, rubber, pharmaceuticals, plastics, live animals, fruit as well automotives.
“Going forward, ECDC is clear that business in the Eastern Cape should grab the opportunities it continues to present in the form of investor and trade facilitation by opening up their locations as centres of investor attraction,” Shenxane explains.
He says ECDC and the Eastern Cape province informed by market opportunities studies, have made a renewed focus on promoting trade with Africa for the local SMMEs and this initiative sits well within the context of Africa trade as well as African renaissance.