17 June 2010 | Neil Oelofse
South African firms could soon be sourcing more goods from emerging countries as trade opportunities open up while Europe is engulfed in economic crisis.
According to trade and industry minister Rob Davies, South Africa could intensify its ties with countries such as Brazil, India and China at the expense of links with traditional partners such as the European Union (EU).
“We now see a huge number of possibilities from south-south trade and a lot of our effort is being deployed there,” Davies told a recent news conference.
While the EU remains South Africa’s biggest partner, falling trade means the country has to diversify and seek alternative partners.
Davies said South Africa was looking not only to trade with big emerging nations, but to find ways to collaborate and fill in the gaps in each others’ economies.
Areas that could benefit from southern hemisphere trade included services, environmental goods, fishery subsidies and agricultural and manufactured goods, he said.
According to a report from Standard Bank, trade between the Bric nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and Africa increased from $22.3 billion (£15.1 billion) in 2000 to approximately $162 billion (£110 billion) in 2008.
In 2008, sub-Saharan Africa took 77 per cent of Bric’s trade to Africa according to the report.