Johannesburg - American businesses with operations in South
Africa remain “very bullish” about the country and Africa as a whole despite
concerns regarding skills‚ competitiveness and the regulatory environment in
South Africa‚ US Senator Christopher Coons (Delaware) said on Wednesday night.
Speaking at the launch of the US-SA Business Council‚ Coons
said the challenges raised by US businesses were not “insurmountable” and that
they could be addressed.
The council seeks - among other objectives - to enrich
investment and trade between SA and the US. It will operate in partnership with
the American Chamber of Commerce and local business organisations including the
Black Business Council‚ Business Unity SA‚ and Business Leadership SA.
Speaking on the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA)‚
Coons said they “fully endorse” the “re-authorisation” of the Act‚ which has
helped many sub-Saharan African countries export goods to the US duty free.
AGOA is set to end in 2015.
A recent survey that sampled 80 American companies indicated
that their investments in SA totalled R233bn by last year.
These companies are
reported to directly and indirectly employ some 145 000 people.
Coons is leading a delegation of business people and
politicians on a trade and investment mission in Africa. They have already visited
other African countries‚ including Mali‚ before arriving in SA.
In SA‚ they are scheduled to meet government‚ business
leaders and politicians from several political parties.
US Chamber of Commerce executive director of the Africa
Business Initiative‚ Scott Eisner‚ referred to the launch of the council as a
“milestone”‚ adding that corporate social responsibilities and skills
development remained central to their objectives.
“We will invest in skills ... We are here for the long
term‚” Eisner said.
US companies are reported to have invested closer to R500m
on skills and development between 2010 and 2011.
The council expressed confidence in SA as the “gateway to
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