Finland raises BEE concerns

2010-03-18 16:32

Cape Town - Finnish businessmen accompanying Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen to South Africa have named black economic empowerment policies as an impediment to business ties, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe said on Thursday.

"They raised challenges to business because of our broadbased black economic empowerment policies and we have offered to be available to explain and to clarify when these serve as bottlenecks," he told a joint media briefing at Tuynhuys.

Motlanthe did not elaborate but indicated that on the whole the Finnish delegation expressed satisfaction with labour market regulations and praised the "predictability" of the South African business environment.

Vanhanen, the first Finnish head of state to visit sub-Saharan Africa in 40 years, was accompanied by representatives of mobile phone giant Nokia Siemens Network and industrial construction companies Cargotec, Metsa and Konecranes.

He confirmed that the visit provided an opportunity for business people to "tell their worries" with regard to BEE.

Vanhanen said South Africa was growing in international stature and had an important role to play in acting as a bridge between developed and developing nations.

"We need that bridge especially after Copenhagen," he said, referring to the UN climate change convention that failed to produce a binding agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

South Africa will host the 17th UN Convention on Climate Change next year.

South Africa accounts for just under one percent of Finland's total foreign trade and some 30 Finnish companies hold investments in South Africa.

- Sapa