Jackson Mthembu. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA
Jackson Mthembu. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA

SA will use the Group of 20 (G20) summit as a platform to boost efforts to attract foreign direct investment into the country, minister in the presidency Jackson Mthembu said on Thursday.

In 2018, President Cyril Ramaphosa set a target to lure investments of $100bn by 2023 in an attempt to reignite economic growth, which has been falling far short of the 5.4% annual target set in the National Development Plan, the government’s blueprint for eliminating poverty and reducing inequality.

According to the latest UN world investment report, investment flows in SA more than doubled to $5.3bn in 2018, but this was largely attributable to intracompany transfers by established investors.

“On the sidelines of the G20 summit, our president will also be taking the opportunity to galvanise investors within the Japan community and other communities who will be attending the summit, to come and invest in our country,” Mthembu said during a post-cabinet media briefing.

The two day summit is scheduled to take place from Friday in Osaka, Japan.

The G20 is an informal group of 19 countries and the EU, with representatives of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Its mandate is to promote global economic growth, international trade and regulation of financial markets.

Ramaphosa will lead the SA delegation, which comprises international relations and co-operation minister Naledi Pandor, finance minister Tito Mboweni and trade and industry minister Ebrahim Patel. This year's summit will focus on eight key themes spanning the global economy, trade and investment, innovation, environment and energy, employment, women’s empowerment, development and health.

The G20 summit provides a platform for SA to secure financial and other support for infrastructure development.

Mthembu said Ramaphosa will also lead a delegation of officials and SA business executives in a roundtable discussion with leading Japanese business leaders. The meeting will aim to promote awareness of opportunities for trade and investment in SA, address the concerns of potential Japanese business partners, and identify and develop potential trade and investment leads, the minister said.

Japan is SA’s fifth-largest trading partner.

Mthembu also said the cabinet was briefed on the upcoming 12th extraordinary summit of the African Union (AU) to launch the operational phase of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), and the first mid-year co-ordination meeting of the AU and the regional economic communities

Ramaphosa is scheduled to lead the SA delegation when the summit is held on July 7 in Niamey, Niger.

In 2018, SA joined various other countries on the continent in signing the AfCFTA agreement, which aims to create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business people and investments. With about 1.2-billion people on the continent, the AfCFTA is set to create one of the largest free-trade market zones in the world.

The agreement came into force recently after it was ratified by 22 countries on April 29, the requisite number for formally notifying the AU.

“SA will take over the ‘chairship’ of AU at a seminal moment when the continent will be implementing the AfCFTA, which will make Africa the biggest common market in the world,” said Mthembu. He said the AfCFTA will boost intra-Africa trade, reignite industrialisation, and pave the way for the meaningful integration of Africa into global value-chains and the global economy in general.

“SA remains committed to the African agenda, and supports regional economic and political integration …. SA is fully committed to the AfCFTA process in view of its strategic importance in the economic integration agenda of the African continent and SA's developmental agenda,” said Mthembu.