Tuesday, Nov 25, 2003
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By Our Special Correspondent
A delegation from the Mpumalanga Investment Initiative (MII), the official investment promotion and trade facilitation agency of the Mpumalanga Provincial Government, which made a presentation to the Southern India Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) here last week, pointed out that South Africa was entitled to duty-free and quota-free entry into the U.S. market under the African Growth and Opportunity Act of the U.S., besides preferential access to the European Union (EU). South Africa, they pointed out, was also a member of the SACU (Southern African Customs Union), which included its four neighbours, namely, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland.
These five countries were also members of the 14-nation South African Development Community (SADC), which had initiated a trade protocol to move towards a free trade area by 2008. (The U.S. is also planning an FTA with SACU).
The Chief Operations Officer of the MII, Anton Scheepers, and Manger-Investment Promotion, Paresh Pandya, said Mpumalanga accounted for the bulk of electricity generation in South Africa, with its pithead power plants.
The country was now surplus in power and exported energy to neighbouring countries, they pointed out.
Home to SAPPI, the largest paper mill in the southern hemisphere, Columbus Stainless, the fifth largest stainless steel producer in the world, and Sasol, which has commercialised production of synthetic fuel from coal, the province offered a large base of mineral and agricultural resources for manufacture of value-added products, including chemicals. It accounted for 76 per cent of South Africa's coal production and 50 per cent of coal reserves and 44 per cent of timber. It generated 75 per cent of the country's electricity. Plans were under way to add further generation capacity in anticipation of expanding demand. It had a sizable forestry resource, supplying raw material to the paper and timber processing industries.
In the food sector, maize and sunflower seeds, in addition to a wide variety of tropical and sub-tropical fruits and vegetables were cultivated in the state, while the non-food farm production included cotton, wool and tobacco. As for tourism, besides the Kruger national park, the province had 70 other game reserves and lodges.
Mr. Pandya pointed out that South Africa was negotiating a free trade agreement with India at present.
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