Doing Business In South Africa

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Introduction from the British Trade Commissioner to South Africa


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Andrew Henderson
Andrew Henderson
British Trade Commissioner to South Africa

As the High Commissioner notes in her foreword to this guide to Doing Business in South Africa, 2013 promises to be an exciting year for my UKTI team. Not only are we looking forward to the major developments to which the High Commissioner refers, but we also already know that we will receive more trade missions from the regions of the United Kingdom than we had in 2012/13. This is a clear and encouraging indication of the level of interest in this emerging market.

The UK remains a top trading partner with South Africa and has an annual bilateral relationship worth over £9.6 billion. In 2012 South Africa was the top African market for UK exports, but there is no room for complacency as competition for UK goods and services will get tougher as the world's attention is increasingly being focussed on Africa. We need to up our game to maintain market share. Standing still is not an option.

South Africa offers many opportunities for UK companies, from major construction and infrastructure and the demand for high-tech and innovative products to the growing potential for UK SMEs to form strategic alliances with South African companies.

There are opportunities at every level. Yes, there are also challenges to doing business in South Africa that companies will need to be aware of including high levels of unemployment, energy and skills shortages and infrastructure bottlenecks. Those wishing to invest here will also need to take account of recent changes to the Black Economic Empowerment legislation, but these situations also provide an opportunity for British business. The UK is well positioned to work with South Africa to take forward their challenging agenda with our world-class products, services and technology.

UKTI is focussing on high value opportunities worth about £290 billion over the next 15 years, including a major programme to upgrade and expand the electricity infrastructure - projected spend of £28 billion over the next five years for a new generation of power stations (nuclear energy is also under consideration), and a Renewable Energy Programme valued at £21 billion to end 2025.

The infrastructure programme is also geared to boost economic growth and create jobs and the South African Government has committed to a £16 billion spend on education in 2012/13 (some 19% of total government spend) so Education & Training is also high on the agenda.

Cape Town has been designated as the World Design Capital for 2014 focussing strongly on socially responsive design and urban redevelopment. 2014 is also a significant milestone for South Africa, marking 20 years of democracy. Many opportunities exist in helping Cape Town to transform into one of the most inclusive, sustainable, liveable and productive cities on the African continent. The Creative Industries sector will come into sharp focus here in 2014.

On the inward investment side, my team has been regularly meeting its targets in attracting high quality South African investment into the United Kingdom. There are now over 650 South African companies operating in the UK including majors such as SAB Miller, Discovery and Netcare in the health sector, Investec and Old Mutual in financial services and Nando's the restaurant chain.

British companies already in South Africa are benefitting from the services UKTI provides, ranging from bespoke research; market entry advice and introduction to potential partners; in-market programme arranging; event management; targeted functions with key and relevant contacts; business networking opportunities and product launches.

My team stands ready to help open doors for your business. We look forward to hearing from you.

Andrew Henderson
British Trade Commissioner to South Africa


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