EC businesses eye China, Nigeria trade

03 October 2019 | Web Article Number: ME201916456

Food & Beverage
SMME Development & Support

THERE are huge opportunities for businesses in the Eastern Cape to export their goods to Nigeria and China.

That was the bullish consensus to emerge from a two-week tour of the two countries hosted by the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC) recently and aimed at improving trade between the province and these fast-growing economies.

First, the ECDC together with its Western Cape trade and investment counterpart WESGRO, took 12 companies on a trade tour of Nigeria. Six of the 12 companies are from the Eastern Cape - the Elvin Group, Glenmor Soap, Magwa Tea Estate, Lizwe Fuels, MXN Electrocon Projects, Chumile Travel and Tours and Mantumo Enterprises.

The companies operate in the food and beverages, oil and gas, electrical engineering and tourism sectors. They held business to business meetings with their Nigerian counterparts with the intention of concluding high value trade deals.

The Nigerian trip was followed by a week-long trade mission to China where the ECDC exhibited Eastern Cape citrus and pineapple products at the Asia Fruit Logistica in Hong Kong. The exhibition formed part of the DTI’s national pavilion which hosted 20 South African fruit producers.

Commenting on the African leg of the tour, ECDC business advisor for trade relations Asisipho Fihlani said the Eastern Cape companies participated in a breakfast session with the Nigeria–South Africa Chamber of Commerce which was sponsored by MTN.

“The trade breakfast was attended by chamber executives, MTN general managers, KPMG, Stanbic Bank, the South African Consul General to Lagos and the South African acting High Commissioner to Nigeria among others.”

Turning to the China trip, Fihlani said the country is the strongest and largest economy in the BRICS grouping. “It has one of the fastest growing economies in the world with more than 6% economic growth annually. This presents an opportunity for South African companies to expand their global market share.

“South African fruit is well received in China and it is known for its high quality. China is one of the largest importers of fresh fruit from South Africa and the Asia Fruit Logistica is seen as a platform where South African companies meet up with potential and existing buyers of their products,”

Fihlani said the ECDC had taken a decision to prioritise the African continent as a trading partner for SMMEs in the province. This resulted in a firm decision to prioritise the African market for more trade missions.

“The African continent has a lot to offer to Eastern Cape companies and ECDC uses these trade missions to expose Eastern Cape businesses to opportunities in the rest of the African market. ECDC regularly extends invitations to entrepreneurs in the province to participate in these missions,” Fihlani said.

In 2018/19, the ECDC participated in 19 trade, investment missions and expos to countries that included Mauritius, Ghana, Ethopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Mozambique, Tunisia, Morocco, Brazil, China, USA, Germany and Canada. Fihlani said a total of 42 SMMEs benefitted from attending these missions.

According to Nigeria-based South African businessman Brian Edben, there are major opportunities in Nigeria for South Africa. Nigeria has an annual shortfall of eight billion eggs and only 10% of sugar consumed in Nigeria is produced there.

“There are also massive opportunities in the railway industry particularly loco diesel. Opportunities also exist in medical tourism. Nigerians spend R20 billion annually on getting medical care abroad,” said Edben.

Nigeria is the largest economy in Africa with a population of more than 180 million people

“The Eastern Cape is a net exporter to Nigeria. Between 2012 and 2016 the major exports from the province to Nigeria were chemical products, essential oils and vehicles. The top imports were mineral fuels, prepared feathers and aluminum. A decision was taken by ECDC to focus on the African regional economies and Nigeria is well positioned as a gateway to the rest of the West African region,” Fihlani said.

The South African Consul General in Nigeria Darkey Africa said a trade and investment conference between the two countries was planned and would analyse the yields obtained from these trade and investment initiatives.

Africa added that South Africa is one of the top 10 investors into Africa and also one of the top 10 exporters into Nigeria. South Africa is also one of the top 10 job creators in Nigeria.

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