Building capacity to help Africa trade better

We need to up our game to provide support to exporters – Director-General October


We need to up our game to provide support to exporters – Director-General October

We need to up our game to provide support to exporters – Director-General October
Photo credit: Transnet

The Director-General for the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti), Mr Lionel October says government needs to up its game to provide support for exporters to ensure increased growth of South African exports. He was addressing the Team Export South Africa (TESA) workshop held in Midrand today.

The two-day workshop is organised by the dti and is attended by government officials from all three spheres, export councils, business as well as export agencies.

October said exporters needed more support on institutional measures as well as financial to the level of the export bank. He said government was in fact in the process of converting the Export Credit Insurance Council (ECIC) into an Export Import Bank (Exim Bank) to ensure that exporters and export councils have the necessary resources they require.

“Countries do not export, companies do. At best we can play the facilitating role but companies should also play their role. We must close the gap between government and exporters, identify top 100 exporters and work with them to break into markets,” said October.

He highlighted the importance of driving transformation and ensuring that companies are compliant with the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) legislation for government to assist them.

“We must set the target for exporters to ensure integration of black exporters. B-BBEE is absolutely essential for us to grow the economy and it is integral to incorporate the private sector. We should be firm and say that we will support the automotive sector but there should be compliance with B-BBEE,” reiterated October.

Speaking as a member of the panel on institutional arrangements that government needs to put in place to increase export, the Chief Executive Officer of Black Business Council, Mr Mohale Ralebitso said government needed to deal with barriers of trade to ensure that there is free flow of trade. Ralebitso stressed that government should improve coordination with regards to dealing with logistics including clearing goods at customs, visas, legislation, red tape and paying SMMEs on time.

“Trade facilitation is pivotal as well as agency alignment to ensure that businesses are able to trade easily. the dti and Home Affairs Department need to coordinate for instance on issues of visas for business at least. We learnt from Kenya that other African countries need us to look at intra trade, meaning that as we export to those countries we also import from them to address the issue of trade imbalance,” he highlighted.

The workshop will also look at the institutional arrangements relating to private sector, Africa as an export market and export support measures.


TESA is a platform that brings together all South African stakeholders that are involved in developing and promoting exports and exporters which includes the dti, provincial departments of economic development, provincial trade agencies, Export Councils, Metro Municipalities and other role players in the export value chain. 

“The event is held once a year to discuss current global and local developments that have an impact of growth of exports from the country. The 2016 event has a theme: Exports as a driver for economic growth and employment,” says Mr October.

He adds that with the domestic economy projected to achieve less than 1% growth in 2016, growth in exports can provide a stimulus for growth in productive output in some of key targeted sectors that include agro-processing, manufacturing and defence industries. 

Mr October says the event will be structured into 4 discussion panels that focus on the following topics:

  • Institutional Arrangements by Government Institutions to promote growth in exports: This session aims to discuss ways that limited government resources can be deployed to make the most impact on growth of exports.

  • Institutional Arrangements by Private Enterprises to promote growth in exports: This session aims to discuss ways that enterprises can group themselves to be better prepared to compete in export markets.

  • Africa as an export market: What Opportunities and Challenges do South African companies face when doing business in the rest of the continent. What can SA Incorporated do to improve its competitive position on the continent.

  • Export Support Measures: Most countries provide funding to stimulate their targeted growth sectors. What measures could be applicable for SA?

The workshop is part of the department’s strategy to ensure collaboration between government and business in growing the economy through increasing exports of South African products into other parts of the world.


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