HomeBussinessSouth Africa calls for greater engagement with Turkish businesses

South Africa calls for greater engagement with Turkish businesses

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Top South African trade official emphasized Monday the vital importance of bilateral trade relations with Türkiye, calling on the Turkish business world that wants to expand to Africa to boost investment and commercial relations.

As a member of the BRICS group alongside Brazil, Russia, India and China and a G-20 member, South Africa ranks among Africa’s leading economies due to its robust financial infrastructure and advanced mining sector.

Continuing its status as Türkiye’s most significant trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa, South Africa hosts all of the continent’s top 10 companies.

“I believe that the trade relations between South Africa and Türkiye are absolutely vital,” South African Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel said in an interview with Anadolu Agency (AA).

He emphasized Türkiye’s strategic location, large population and significant economy, highlighting South Africa as the industrial hub of sub-Saharan Africa, the continent’s industrial base.

Patel noted that this situation makes Türkiye and South Africa strong partners, pointing out that Turkish companies already have significant investments and production centers in South Africa.

Assessing Türkiye’s immense industrial capacity, Patel said: “As Turkish companies expand and grow in the Turkish market, they need to establish centers elsewhere in the world. With its strong legal framework and financial foundations, South Africa is the right destination for major Turkish companies wishing to operate on the continent.”

Pointing to Africa’s rapidly growing population, expected to double by 2050, surpassing China and India, Patel suggested it would be “wise for smart companies and investors to come early and establish a production base here.”

“They would then become part of our growth story. I look forward to meeting Turkish companies visiting South Africa,” he noted.

Bilateral trade volume

Evaluating business ties between the two countries, Ilker Eralp, commercial counselor at the Turkish Embassy in Pretoria, noted that bilateral trade, which reached $3.3 billion in 2022 dropped to $1.95 billion last year.

Eralp attributed this decline to global developments, South Africa’s low economic growth and the earthquake disaster in Türkiye. He also highlighted the significant role played by the drop in petroleum bitumen exports from over $1 billion in 2022 to around $200 million in 2023.

Moreover, he pointed out a significant increase in the number of trade delegations from Türkiye and highlighted the significant advantages of trade incentives with South Africa, which is included in the target and priority countries list of the Trade Ministry.

He stated that as of 2023, Türkiye exported mostly petroleum products, machinery, white goods, automotive parts and home textile products to South Africa, while importing mainly coal, gold, chrome, manganese, automotive parts and camera lenses.

Eralp reiterated that South Africa, with its strongest financial institutions on the continent, continues to serve as a gateway for Turkish companies to Africa and remains the most crucial trading partner south of the Sahara. He recommended Turkish companies to closely follow the green energy, infrastructure and transmission line tenders to be announced in 2024.

Key points for doing business in S. Africa

Abubekir Salim, president of the Türkiye-South Africa Business Council at the Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEIK), emphasized the strong cultural ties between Türkiye and South Africa, stating that South Africans have always welcomed Turks as a second home, making them feel at home in their country.

“The ease and difficulties of doing business in a country are related to the approach of the people in that country. South Africa is a country that always welcomes Turks as their second home and makes them feel at home,” he said.

Salim highlighted South Africa’s institutional structure, stating that while doing business there is not difficult, it takes time, and results are not achieved quickly, but once achieved, continuity is established.

He pointed out that Türkiye has made significant progress in trade with South Africa over the past decade, attributing it to a process that began with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit to South Africa and continues with the building of close relations between the two countries.

He stated that despite similar stances in the foreign policy of the two countries, the trade figures are below what they should be, suggesting: “We should negotiate, establish relationships, create both trade and investment opportunities, and surpass these by far.”

South African businessperson Kashif Wicomb similarly emphasized the strong cultural ties between the nations and noted that especially as South African Muslims they have a special fondness for Türkiye.

“We are exploring mutual trade opportunities. Our doors are wide open to Turks. We would like to see more Turkish products in South Africa and more South African products in Türkiye,” Wicomb stated.

Turkish businessperson Nejdet Tıskaoğlu expressed happiness in employing over 200 people in South Africa through investments made over the past seven years, conveying the aim to expand their investments there.

Drawing attention, however, to hurdles originating from slow bureaucratic processes, which are among the difficulties encountered in investing in the country, he said, “Unfortunately, there are shortcomings in providing incentives and support to foreign investors.”

“South Africa needs to open the way for foreign investors so that they can bring others when they come.”

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