We showed the world a united front in Davos

CityPress - - Business - Kings­ley Makhubela

South Africa was rep­re­sented by a mul­tistake­holder, high-level del­e­ga­tion at the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum in Davos last week. Com­ing within the con­text of pro­jected low­ered global eco­nomic growth, and fall­ing oil and com­mod­ity prices, this gath­er­ing of in­ter­na­tional thought lead­ers pre­sented an op­por­tu­nity to look at global re­sponses to a range of press­ing so­cial, de­vel­op­men­tal and eco­nomic is­sues.

South Africa is not in­su­lated from this global eco­nomic en­vi­ron­ment and, al­though we have the most di­ver­si­fied econ­omy in Africa, and a strong macroe­co­nomic pol­icy and fis­cal en­vi­ron­ment, the fall­ing com­mod­ity prices, among other things, present a chal­lenge to our eco­nomic growth fore­casts.

Our most im­por­tant mes­sage in Davos to in­ter­na­tional busi­ness and in­vestors would have to be that South Africa is open for busi­ness in this en­vi­ron­ment, and that they could be as­sured of our com­mit­ment to pol­icy cer­tainty and con­sis­tency. Among other things, we com­mu­ni­cated that:

Our strong macroe­co­nomic frame­work has shielded the econ­omy from the full brunt of a chal­leng­ing global eco­nomic en­vi­ron­ment and volatil­ity in global cap­i­tal mar­kets;

Govern­ment, through its fis­cal con­sol­i­da­tion mea­sures, is com­mit­ted to con­tin­ued fis­cal pru­dence and preser­va­tion of in­vest­ment-grade credit rat­ings;

Pri­vate part­ner­ships in en­ergy through re­new­able pro­grammes are fast con­tribut­ing to fur­ther power avail­abil­ity;

Ma­ture bank­ing in­sti­tu­tions and world-class cap­i­tal mar­kets make for easy ac­cess to cap­i­tal;

The adop­tion of a so­cioe­co­nomic im­pact as­sess­ment sys­tem by Cab­i­net in Septem­ber 2015 seeks to avoid pol­icy con­tra­dic­tions and pre­serve a busi­ness-friendly en­vi­ron­ment;

Ef­forts at the Na­tional Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment and Labour Coun­cil to foster a sta­ble labour en­vi­ron­ment are yield­ing re­sults, and the Com­mis­sion for Con­cil­i­a­tion, Me­di­a­tion and Ar­bi­tra­tion has been given re­spon­si­bil­ity through amend­ments to the Labour Act to me­di­ate in re­solv­ing strikes; and

Com­pre­hen­sive busi­ness in­cen­tive pack­ages across sec­tors of­fer sup­port to busi­ness.

With a strong team con­sist­ing of min­is­ters from the eco­nomic clus­ter, se­nior rep­re­sen­ta­tives of South African state-owned en­ti­ties and many rep­re­sen­ta­tives of busi­ness, Team SA took th­ese mes­sages with con­fi­dence to the snow-cov­ered town in Switzer­land. They were com­mu­ni­cated in all our in­ter­ac­tions dur­ing the four-day fo­rum.

What we ex­pe­ri­enced was that in­vestors and lead­ers of global busi­ness con­tinue to be pos­i­tive about South Africa in par­tic­u­lar and Africa as a whole, con­trary to the sen­ti­ment we have seen ex­pressed do­mes­ti­cally about all affairs eco­nomic.

In­vestors and global busi­ness lead­ers also ap­pre­ci­ated South Africa’s frank­ness and open­ness in ex­plain­ing some of the chal­lenges we’re are deal­ing with in terms of our eco­nomic growth.

De­spite th­ese chal­lenges, South Africa con­tin­ues to at­tract for­eign di­rect in­vest­ment, and the ICICI Bank of In­dia this week an­nounced it would set up an of­fice in South Africa, which af­firms our po­si­tion that we are a pre­ferred in­vest­ment desti­na­tion even in th­ese dif­fi­cult global con­di­tions.

We also took the op­por­tu­nity to re­it­er­ate to del­e­gates at Davos that the Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Plan and the nine-point plan for eco­nomic re­cov­ery, un­der­scored by Op­er­a­tion Phak­isa, re­main our pro­gramme of ac­tion.

This com­mu­ni­cated an aware­ness on our part that we could not con­tinue with busi­ness as usual.

The chal­leng­ing and un­cer­tain global eco­nomic con­di­tions ne­ces­si­tate an in­no­va­tive ap­proach to en­sur­ing that we re­main glob­ally com­pet­i­tive in the face of tur­bu­lence. A mes­sage can only go that far to build con­fi­dence. We must now pull to­gether in our var­i­ous sec­tors to en­sure we im­ple­ment th­ese pro­grammes.

In a highly un­cer­tain eco­nomic cli­mate, we have, as Team SA, once again demon­strated that uniquely South African qual­ity of be­ing able to stand to­gether in the face of ad­ver­sity be­cause our coun­try is the most im­por­tant thing.

This is the spirit that will see us tran­scend al­most un­prece­dented global un­cer­tainty.

Makhubela is the CEO of Brand SA

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