Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

SA’s sugar and automotive trade with the EU is a matter of concern for the ANC should Britain leave the union on Friday.

Speaking at a manifesto briefing at the party’s headquarters on Sunday‚ trade and industry minister Rob Davies said his department was “watching very closely” the processes and implications of Brexit as the EU remained the country’s largest trading partner‚ and investor‚ as a bloc.

If the UK were to “crash out” of the EU without any agreements in place‚ the World Trade Organisation’s terms of trade would apply — which may affect duties on products like sugar and automotive vehicles imported to SA, he said.

Davies said the party was also concerned about the trade war between the US and China‚ adding that SA had become “collateral damage” in the battle.

According to a document produced by the ANC at the briefing‚ which was read out by small business development minister Lindiwe Zulu‚ the EU represents 77% of SA’s total foreign direct investment‚ the total trade from which amounts to more than half-a-trillion rand. In addition‚ over 2‚000 companies from the EU operate in SA‚ creating more than 500‚000 direct and indirect jobs.

Stable economic ties

“SA has several bilateral agreements with most of the countries in the EU that have benefited our country. We note with concern the ongoing Brexit debate and hope that a resolution will be reached in this regard. As the ANC-led government‚ we will ensure that we nourish stable economic ties with all countries bilaterally and through various multilateral platforms‚” the document reads.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May now is asking for Britain’s departure from the EU to be pushed back until June 30.

Meanwhile the Gauteng department of education is to launch an engineering school with an automotive focus where learners will be trained how to build the new BMW X3.

To make this a reality‚ BMW SA has donated at least one of its X3 models to the new Soshanguve Engineering School of Specialisation to assist with educational purposes‚ said the department’s spokesperson‚ Steve Mabona.

“We are excited about our partnership with BMW SA‚ who donated and will hand over one of its first model X3s to the school for educational gain to our learners. Among others‚ they will also support the school with training services and material. This is revolution and quality education we are advocating for which learners will benefit from‚” said MEC Panyaza Lesufi.

Lesufi is expected to launch the school on Tuesday in a bid to nurture talent in young people across key disciplines.

“SoS (schools of specialisation) are intended to respond to the skills shortage and unemployment crisis among the youth in the country. It is envisaged that SoS would equip learners with the skills and knowledge to give them the best chance of success in life‚” said Mabona.

The department said industry and private partnerships were of paramount importance in addressing unemployment and skill shortages as they provide learners with workplace experience‚ learnerships‚ artisanship and entrepreneurial skills.