Council to help US compete in SA

Dec 11 2012 07:57

Washington - A leading US business group on Monday said it was creating a new body called the US-South Africa Business Council as part of a broader effort to respond to increased competition throughout Africa from China, Europe and others.

"We need to elevate the business community's game in the continent. We have American investment there, but we have fallen behind frankly in the last 10 years," Myron Brilliant, senior vice president at the US Chamber of Commerce, said.

The initiative is the latest US effort to make up lost ground in Africa, which this year is home to many of the fastest-growing economies in the world.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited the continent in August and acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank just returned from a trip to South Africa and Kenya.

It also comes at a time when South Africa continues to struggle with high employment and widespread poverty, two decades after the end of the apartheid era that lifted people's hope for a better life.

"The goal of both countries is create jobs, among other things. Jobs and economic growth," US Under Secretary of State Robert Hormats said. "We really see this (new council) as part of a two-way win-win process where we can strengthen trade ties and investment."

US companies that invest in the South Africa, the biggest economy on the continent, will be in a better position to compete throughout Africa, Hormats said.

Charter members of the US-South Africa Council include US beverage giant Coca-Cola, engineering and construction firm Black & Veatch and drug manufacturer Eli Lilly and Co, as well as smaller firms such as Solar Reserve, a solar energy project development company.

US companies see business opportunities in sectors such as mining, finance, communications, energy, transportation and infrastructure development, said Scott Eisner, vice president for African affairs at the US Chamber of Commerce.

"There has been in shift in thinking in corporate America towards Africa. The Chinese owned the better part of the last decade when it came to investment there" and got the attention of US corporate and government leaders, Eisner said.

The US business community will use the new council as a vehicle to get into other emerging markets in Africa, such as Mozambique with its plentiful natural gas resources and Botswana with its huge coal reserves, he said.  

Follow Fin24 on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest.

africa  |  business



Read Fin24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Company Snapshot

We're talking about...

Calling all social entrepreneurs - apply for The Venture now!

Are you running an innovative social business that's helping to create a better future? Then pitch for a share of The Venture’s $1m fund and receive world-class mentorship to help accelerate your business growth.

Money Clinic

Money Clinic
Do you have a question about your finances? We'll get an expert opinion.
Click here...

Voting Booth

New SAA board now has an aviation expert

Previous results · Suggest a vote