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US businesses bullish towards SA

Feb 21 2013 08:59 I-Net Bridge

President Jacob Zuma (File, Sapa)

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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 Africa”. 

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