TBY talks to Jacob Zuma, President of the Republic of South Africa, on the country's trade relationship with Turkey.

Bilateral trade between Turkey and South Africa was over $2 billion in 2013, chiefly in the mining and textile sectors. How has trade grown between the two states since then, and which areas of trade have proven the most important?

In 2013 trade volume between the two countries amounted to R12billion, with South African exports accounting for R6 billion and imports from Turkey accounting for R6.3 billion of total trade. According to preliminary trade data for 2014, exports recorded an increase of 6% (from R6 billion in 2013 to R6.4 billion in 2014), while imports recorded an increase of 11% (from R6.3 billion to R7 billion). During the period 2013-2014, Mineral exports recorded an increase of 59% (from R1.9 billion to R3 billion). South African imports of textiles recorded an increase of 55% (from R538 million in 2013 to R970 million in 2014). South Africa's major exports to Turkey in 2014 included mineral fuels and ores, slag and ash, and iron and steel. Leading imports from Turkey included vehicles other than railway-related products, including tramways, machinery, and nuclear reactors. South African exports to Turkey continue to be dominated by minerals and semi-processed minerals. In this regard, the Department of Trade and Industry has undertaken several trade promotion activities to promote exports of high-value added products.

What are some of the most beneficial aspects of the trade relationship between South Africa and Turkey?

Turkey has a wealth of knowledge in the clothing and textile industry as well as the mineral beneficiation and jewelry sectors. Turkish companies will benefit from the need for South Africa to process its wealth of minerals into value-added products, to be utilized domestically or to be exported. Turkish experience in the machinery, textile. and construction industries can help the South African economy develop even faster.

“Turkish companies will benefit from the need for South Africa to process its wealth of minerals."

How can South Africa facilitate access to the rest of Africa for Turkish investors?

Economic relations between South Africa and Turkey are governed by the South Africa-Turkey Joint Economic Commission (JEC). The primary objective of the JEC is to promote and deepen bilateral trade and economic cooperation between the two countries. Trade and Investment South Africa just recently signed an MoU with ISPAT, the Turkish investment promotion agency. The objective of the agreement is to support investors from our respective countries with targeted projects. It is widely recognized that Africa is on a new growth trajectory. The continent has chosen an industrialization path driven through regional integration, infrastructure development, mineral beneficiation, and developing the agricultural value chain. Turkey already has a strong presence on the continent and by forging partnerships between companies from our two countries, and we can make an invaluable contribution to these objectives. South Africa is strategically positioned to serve as an entry point into the rest of the African continent for Turkish business. Cooperation and partnership between us will ensure that we contribute toward the promotion of the continent's interests, at both the regional and global levels.

© The Business Year - April 2015