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Beware of impact of new laws on investment - Chamber

Feb 05 2016 20:00
Carin Smith

Cape Town - The negative impact of legislation like the investment promotion protection bill and the expropriation bill on foreign investment figures in South Africa will only become visible in future, cautioned Matthias Boddenberg, chief executive of the Southern African-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Thursday.

The chamber has expressed its concern about the legislation in the past, but was not successful in convincing the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) and other policy makers of its view, Boddenberg said at the first meeting of Cape members of the chamber in 2016.

"We have tried to convince the dti and policy makers as well as members of parliament that foreign investors do not see the national law as sufficient and as safeguarding new investments," said Boddenberg.

"The American as well as the European chambers have expressed their concern as well. These concerns were aggravated when we looked at the expropriation bill."

"Our concerns have not been addressed and I am afraid to say that we will see the effects of this legislation only in a few years' time when we look at the figures for foreign investment in SA," warned Boddenberg.

READ: Expropriation bill will spook investors, banks say

He described 2015 as a year of great changes and upheaval in politics, society and also in the realm of the chamber. The Rhodes Must Fall and Fees Must Fall initiatives are examples he mentioned.

As for Nenegate, Boddenberg said this shuffle of the minister of finance in cabinet at the end of 2015 caught chamber members by surprise.

"The reaction of the markets did not surprise us, but certainly led to the hasty re-instatement of former finance minister Pravin Gordhan," said Boddenberg.

"This brought some relief to the markets, but the damage had been done."

At the same time, he said the chamber members were grateful that there were no major strike waves in 2015. At the same time some members are worried about possible strike action later this year.

The chamber expects broad based black economic empowerment (BBBEE) to play an important role in 2016.

"Most of our member companies have implemented some measures in order to comply with the regulations," said Boddenberg.

The chamber plans to set up an enterprise and supplier development fund to support the development of enterprises in general, but also to develop suppliers for German companies in SA.

READ: Davies tables investment bill, says it won't dent SA

"We can thereby contribute to the fight against the de-industrialisation of SA, which is a serious threat," explained Boddenberg.

The total trade volume between SA and Germany from January to November 2015 amounted to €14.3bn (about R254bn). German exports to SA amounted to €8.9bn and SA exports to Germany reached €5.4bn.

The chamber expects the total trade volume for 2015 to come to about €15bn.

Boddenberg concluded by saying he is happy with the progress made by the chamber toward a regional orientation. An office has been established in Maputo and good progress has been made in establishing an office in Lusaka.

ALSO READ: Anthea Jeffery: New Expropriation Bill is out - and it's still unconstitutional

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investments  |  sa economy  |  fdi

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