from the ed­i­tor

JANA MARAIS

Finweek English Edition - - NEWS -

Trade and in­dus­try min­is­ter Rob Davies has faced quite a bit of crit­i­cism over South Africa’s at­ti­tude to for­eign in­vestors since the Bel­gian am­bas­sador was un­cer­e­mo­ni­ously sum­moned to the depart­ment of trade and in­dus­try in 2013 and in­formed that SA is can­celling a bi­lat­eral in­vest­ment pro­tec­tion agree­ment with his coun­try.

Since then, a num­ber of other treaties have been can­celled when they came up for re­newal. The Pro­mo­tion of In­vest­ment Bill, which is sup­posed to act as their re­place­ment, has rightly been the sub­ject of mas­sive crit­i­cism from di­plo­mats and in­vestors for pro­vid­ing in­suf­fi­cient pro­tec­tion and se­cu­rity of ten­ure.

Through it all, Davies has been un­per­turbed, again say­ing at a re­cent me­dia brief­ing that many in­vestors con­tinue to see op­por­tu­ni­ties in SA.

Per­haps we should cut the min­is­ter some slack. While no one can deny that we need a lot more in­vest­ment, and that for­eign in­vest­ment isn’t au­to­mat­i­cally a good thing (look at the mas­sive un­der­in­vest­ment by ArcelorMit­tal in its lo­cal plants, for ex­am­ple), Davies is right: some in­vestors still have the vi­sion – and ca­hoonas, given the state of our econ­omy and the sig­nif­i­cant reg­u­la­tory un­cer­tainty – to take bets on SA.

In fact, a num­ber of our com­pa­nies are do­ing phe­nom­e­nally well, and not all of them are boom­ing be­cause they’re build­ing em­pires on the rest of the con­ti­nent, like Sho­prite, or fur­ther afield, like Stein­hoff.

A look at some of the top per­form­ers on the JSE this year shows quite a few who are, for all prac­ti­cal pur­poses, still purely South African plays – com­pa­nies like Cal­gro M3, Pur­ple Group, Capitec Bank, Hold­sport, Curro Hold­ings, Afrimat, Rhodes Food Group, Pioneer Foods and PSG.

Then there are oth­ers who are still largely de­pen­dent on SA for its for­tunes, and have, de­spite the tough econ­omy, man­aged to show some im­pres­sive turn­arounds in re­cent years – Old Mu­tual (also see page 21), Su­per Group and Sappi come to mind.

It may not be as easy as it could (and should) be to in­vest and do busi­ness in SA, but per­haps some of the naysay­ers should just start back­ing bet­ter horses.

Mat­ter of fact

In our Spot­light fea­ture in the 19 Novem­ber is­sue, we im­plied that the Cape Town Cen­tral City Im­prove­ment Dis­trict (CCID) was founded af­ter 2004. It was in fact formed in 2000. We re­gret the er­ror.

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