Is Brexit the opportunity of a lifetime for Western Cape

As  the official tourism, trade and investment promotion agency for Cape Town and the Western Cape, Wesgro is keeping a keen eye on unfolding events around Brexit and the implications thereof for local companies with trade and investment links to the UK.

Media Release Date: 16 January 2019.

“Ranked  as the 2nd largest export market for the Province, UK exports exceeded  R9 billion at the end of 2017. The UK is also the Province’s largest investor by number of projects, with the UK accounting for 25% of all foreign investment projects into the Western Cape between January 2003 and September  2017. From a tourism perspective, UK was the province’s largest tourist market in 2017 and Quarter 1 of 2018.

The trade relationship with the UK operates in South Africa’s favour. We sell R46bn in goods to the UK, while buying R33bn.  Source IOL 26 Jun 2018)

Understanding the disruption and uncertainty that Brexit creates for local exporters to the UK, and local companies doing business in the UK, Wesgro will aim to host a seminar with local businesses to provide the most up to date information on possible Brexit scenarios and outcomes.

Wesgro has already been playing a proactive role in understanding and transferring knowledge on Brexit and led an outward mission to the UK and Scotland in May 2017, to better understand and uncover opportunities for improved trade, investment and tourism between the Western Cape and the UK post-Brexit.

In  addition to this, the UK’s Department for International Trade (DIT) and Wesgro signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) aimed to enhance the trade and  investment relationship between the United Kingdom and the Western Cape, and secure positive trade and investment outcomes post-Brexit. Integral to the MOU is the UK’s  involvement in Wesgro’s Consultative Forum, which will work with UK companies to identify and address barriers to doing business in the Western Cape.

At the national level, Wesgro together with the Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities, engaged Minister Rob Davies of the Department of Trade and Industry (dti)  in late 2017, to gain a better understanding of the roll-over trade agreement that will come into effect post-Brexit.

Wesgro  CEO, Tim Harris, commented: “Since 2016, Wesgro has actively hosted information sessions on Brexit, acting as a conduit for information to Western Cape exporters. For example, in October 2016, Wesgro together with the Minister of Economic  Opportunities and the British Consul General, hosted a seminar to clarify  implications of the potential outcomes.”

“With the UK being an important market for the Western Cape across tourism, investment and trade, we will look to not only to strengthen our existing economic relationship, but also to expand our engagement with the UK market in other sectors, including in services trade, in a manner that will bolster the Western Cape economy, following the Brexit negotiations.”

Minister of Economic Opportunities, , Beverly Schäfer, concluded: “The UK is one of our major trading partners in the Western  Cape, and understanding how Brexit will impact future trade and investment is of utmost importance as the province seeks to grow tourism, trade and  investment to boost economic growth. Local businesses should arm themselves  with enough information as possible in order to navigate the changes and  uncertainty, and the Wesgro seminar will go a long way towards providing  clarity in this regard.”

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