A World of Opportunities for Western Cape Exporters in the UK

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A World of Opportunities for Western Cape Exporters in the UK
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A World of Opportunities for Western Cape Exporters in the UK
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15 July 2022
  • UK remains a key trade partner for Western Cape exporters.
  • Wesgro, together with Trade Forward South Africa, supported by the British High Commission hosted a joint event to highlight opportunities for local exporters into this key market.
  • Digitising the exports landscape to create more visibility for local sellers, Wesgrolaunched the Cape Trade Portal and supporting Made in the Cape marketing campaign - launched in the UK earlier this year.

Wesgro and Trade Forward Southern Africa (TFSA), supported by the British High Commission, hosted a joint event today, highlighting the trade opportunities that stem from the Southern African Customs Union Member States and Mozambique (SACU-M) and the United Kingdom Economic Partnership Agreement (UK EPA).

Forming part of the sessions hosted over the past three years, the event unpacked what the UK’s departure from the European Union means for local exporters, and the opportunities it creates for the Western Cape and South Africa.

The UK is the top source market for tourism and foreign direct investment into the province, as well as the Western Cape’s 3rd largest export market. Wine remains the largest exported product accounting for over 18% of total exports to the UK in 2021, followed by grapes and citrus.

Topics discussed during the course of the event included:

  • preferential market access to the UK for South African goods under the SACUM-UK EPA;
  • an update on the UK's trade administrative processes, infrastructure and logistics systems;
  • the UK’s trade relationship with the EU and what this means for goods exported from South Africa to the UK;
  • support available from the United Kingdom, TFSA and Wesgro teams to support exports from South Africa to the United Kingdom; and
  • the need to explore untapped opportunities in the export of services.

Provincial Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, Mireille Wenger thanked the United Kingdom for the strong partnership, which is critical for the Western Cape’s economic growth. Speaking on the importance of collaboration, the Minister argued that South Africa needs to adopt a “business unusual” approach by embracing the power of partnership, especially with the private sector.

The Minister said “We need a “business unusual” approach as we look to leverage exports from our region to grow the economy and create jobs. This approach requires removing barriers to growth that stand in our way and leveraging the opportunities that exist in the world.”

“We also have to have a “business unusual” approach when we think about exports of the future, and how we can be prepared to be a producer of them. As part of our energy discussions, for example, we are asking ourselves whether we are ready for the demand for Green Hydrogen, and how can we position ourselves to leverage its potential growth into the future.

The Minister reflected on the efforts of the Western Cape Government to ensure energy resilience, boost infrastructure spending, and improve efficiencies at the Port of Cape Town, which are all key enablers for trade.

“As we work to create much-needed jobs and economic growth, let us continue to work closely with partners in the public and private sectors to capitalise on the expansive export and investment opportunities available to us through platforms such as the SACUM-UK Economic Partnership Agreement and Trade Forward Southern Africa programme. This means close collaboration, information exchange and smart investment in all the infrastructure necessary for the trade of goods and services, including the port, the airport, and various technological assets. The City government also has a dedicated investment facilitation service focused on helping companies to land and expand in Cape Town. We stand ready to get moving”, added Alderman James Vos, the City of Cape Town’s Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Growth.

Committed to further strengthening trade and investment ties and unlocking more commercial opportunities to deliver inclusive prosperity, British High Commissioner to South Africa, Antony Phillipson went on to say: “We stand ready to work hand in hand with the South Africa Government and its export ready SMME’s to help build back a resilient and sustainable economy that supports job creation. Futhermore, to help accelerate South Africa’s ambition to achieve a low-carbon and climate resilient economy, we will continue to ensure UK trade and investments into South Africa are sustainable, transformative and inclusive using world-leading innovation and technology.”

Digitising the exports landscape to create increased visibility and accessibility to local sellers, Wesgro launched the Cape Trade Portal and supporting Made in the Cape marketing campaign, launched in the UK earlier this year. The portal showcases over 3 000 local products, and has received over 190 000 unique visits, with 90 000 of the visitors being from the UK.

In conclusion, Wesgro CEO, Wrenelle Stander, said: “The Western Cape’s tech and green value proposition is successfully driving the province’s competitiveness, to capture its share of global investment.”

“Home to production leaders in agriculture, agri-processing, manufacturing, and tech products and services - the province’s exports grew by 7% in 2020 and 22% in 2021, despite global challenges. Our province’s unique value proposition, supported by an enabling local export ecosystem, stands us in good stead to maximise our export potential to key markets such as the UK,” concluded Stander.