Wesgro’s export unit has become a leader in utilising innovative tech solutions to drive international trade for Cape Town and the Western Cape. This means that the COVID-19 pandemic has not stopped the unit from achieving strong results in export deals and Outward Foreign Direct Investment (OFDI) into the rest of Africa.
For quarter two of the financial year, the unit secured R914 million in export declarations and created 33 jobs by the end of September. The unit participated in a virtual London Tech Week from 1-11 September, and hosted the South African pavilion, alongside the South African Electro-technical Export Council (SAEEC), and the Tshwane Economic Development Agency (TEDA). They also led a successful Uganda Wine Mission from 16-21 September 2020 where a total of 15 wine companies participated.
The unit used tech platforms to host the first ever Asia Virtual Cosmetics Mission from 8-11 September, where 5 cosmetics companies from the Western Cape were selected to attend the ECRM virtual cosmetics programme for Asia 2020. More than 100 successful meetings were held with over 30 buyers in Asia. In addition, a virtual trade mission to Cameroon was conducted from 28-30 September. It focussed on exploring trade and investment opportunities in the medical and agribusiness sectors
By 21 October, the Export unit had 24 outward virtual missions in the bag, as well as 3 inward virtual inward buying missions from the United States, Canada and Uganda. Other outward virtual missions that took place included Italy, Spain, Poland, Russia, Malaysia, China, Kenya, Ghana, Ethiopia and Angola.
“The innovative and creative use of various tech platforms by the Export team has really served to maintain and bolster exports from the Western Cape. As a team, we have been the leader in South Africa in leveraging technology to sustain economic growth in the province. The professionalism, dedication and creativity of the team means we provide a world-class service to Western Cape exporters” said Head of the Export Uni at Wesgro, Denan Kuni.
At the end of Quarter 3, the unit had also:
- Hosted a webinar, focusing on investment and support opportunities in the Western Cape, South Africa and Australia.
- Collaborated with the Dominican Republic on a webinar on the 21st of October, where they presented and explained Wesgro’s service offering in terms of export promotion.
- Collaborated with the South African Embassy in Washington on a webinar on the 28th and 29th of October, where they discussed exporting to the USA under AGOA.
- Hosted a BRICS Webinar on 12 November where they looked into export opportunities and challenges amongst BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) members.
- Collaborated with the Mexican Embassy on a webinar on the 24th of November, where they presented and explained Wesgro’s service offering, in terms of export promotion and the trade relationship between South Africa, the Western Cape and Mexico.
The unit secured R85 million in export declarations and created 103 direct jobs during this quarter. Year-to-date results indicate that the unit has secured over R2.2billion in export declarations, which are measured over a 5-year period. These engagements are additional to the work executed by the unit to assist businesses during the lockdown, including support for the COVID-19 Fund Navigator Tool: https://supportbusiness.co.za/covid-19-support-finder/
To date, more than 6 500 businesses have utilized the tool, while more than 500 queries relating to funding or UIF/TERS support have been attended to. In addition, direct lobbying relating to UIF/TERS supported the retention of more than 160 jobs.
Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, David Maynier said: “Growing exports, primarily through trade promotion and the removal of obstacles to exports, was a critical lever in our strategy to grow the economy and create jobs in the Western Cape pre-Covid, and it will continue to be a critical lever in our strategy as we emerge from this crisis and start to rebuild our economy. And so, I’d like to congratulate Wesgro’s Export unit on their achievements this year. They have demonstrated great innovation and adaption to continue driving international trade for the Western Cape during this challenging year.”
"Innovation in the next normal is key to keeping Cape Town top of mind as a destination of choice. Cape Town is open for business and ready to share the wealth of quality goods and services we have on offer, with the rest of the world. The Mother City is a perfect springboard into the rest of Africa and globally. Any opportunity to increase trade opportunities is very much welcomed. My focus is on securing bums on seats and boxes in the belly – ensuring our residents benefit from our visitors and the opportunities exporting goods and services bring," said Mayoral Committee Member: Economic Opportunities and Asset Management, Alderman James Vos.
“The ability of the export unit to quickly adapt by moving onto tach platforms is commendable. We have received favourable responses from exporters that participated in our virtual missions and business webinars, which shows why we have been able to secure concrete export deals on the back of these platforms. This is the “new normal” in export promotion at Wesgro,” concluded Wesgro CEO, Tim Harris