Benin offers huge investment opportunities for South African businesses and investors, says the minister of trade and industry Elizabeth Thabethe.
Delivering a keynote address at the Trade and Investment Seminar in Benin, Thabethe urged South African business to take advantage of the myriad investment opportunities that exist in Agriculture, Agro-processing, Infrastructure, and Small, Medium and Micro Enterprise (SMME) development and financing sectors of the Benin economy.
The seminar was attended by about two hundred businesspeople from South Africa and Benin in Cotonou this week. Thabethe is leading a 15-member business delegation to Benin on the first Outward Selling and Investment Mission that kicked off with the seminar and will end on Thursday.
“Our business community must seize the trade and investment opportunities available in Benin, which the two governments are facilitating through the necessary enabling framework. South Africa has identified opportunities for collaboration in agriculture and agro-processing, infrastructure (rail, road, Air and sea ports, and power generation) as well as Small, Medium and Micro Enterprise (SMME) development and financing,” said Thabethe
Thabethe added that governments from both South Africa and Benin were in the throes of creating good trade relations that will be conducive for both business people from both countries to partner and invest in each other’s country.
“Our countries signed the Memorandum of Understanding on Economic and Technical Cooperation in November 2011. The MoU is aimed at identifying specific areas that will further deepen our technical, trade and industrial cooperation arrangement. In order to ensure that the MoU is implemented, the two countries established the Joint Trade and Investment Committee (JTIC) in February 2012,” she said.
Thabethe also challenged businesspeople from both countries to work hard in order to redress the trade balance between SA and Benin.
“Trade balance is very much skewed in South Africa’s favour, in 2011 bilateral trade between the two countries amounted to approximately R310m. This comprised of imports from Benin of R10m and exports to Benin of R297m. South Africa mainly exported vegetable products such as fruit, nuts, peels of citrus fruit, melons and oil seed, grain and seed to Benin, whereas we imported residues, wastes of food industry and animal fodder from Benin,” she said.
The Minister of Industry, Trade, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises in Benin, Madina Sephou also urged businesspeople from SA and Benin to take advantage of the conducive environment created by the two governments and form partnerships that will assist in boosting trade between the two countries, so as to build on commitments made by President Jacob Zuma and Benin President Boni Yayi last year