SOUTH Africa's discussion with France on co-operation around the development of composites has been hailed by the burgeoning composites sector in South Africa.
The Mandela Bay Composites Cluster, supported by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and tasked with representing and advancing the interests of and commercial opportunities in the composites sector in South Africa, said the development showed serious intent from South Africa to extract economic benefits through the development of composites in manufacturing.
“What is clear and highly satisfying is that the DTI is implementing tangible initiatives to boost advanced manufacturing in the country, which has pockets of excellence, but on the whole requires development and support,'' said Mandela Bay Composites Cluster Director, Dr Kjelt van Rijswijk.
Van Rijswijk said the agreement with France to cooperate on composite technology was the latest outcome of the joint efforts of the Department of Trade and Industry and the Mandela Bay Composites Cluster (MBCC) in support of the local composites industry.
“This effort has previously resulted in the inclusion of composites in the Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP), international trade promotion activities and the establishment of the MBCC itself,” Van Rijswijk added.
According to a statement, Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies had a courtesy meeting with the new French Ambassador to South Africa, Christophe Farnaud, in Cape Town. The meeting emphasised composites as a sector that the two countries could cooperate on. South Africa is new in composite manufacturing while France is the leader in the sector.
Investment opportunities for French businesses in SA composites sector
Minister Davies says South Africa would like to see investments and technical collaboration in composite applications.
“Strengthening of relations between the South African and French businesses on composites and advanced manufacturing in general will create opportunities for both countries. Advanced manufacturing is viewed as a sector for future economic growth. There are several investment opportunities for French businesses in the South African composite sector and advanced manufacturing,” states Davies.
The sectors that the two countries can cooperate on were further discussed at the Joint Economic Commission between South Africa and France in Paris at the end of March. The work agenda of economic relations between South Africa and France is coordinated through the South Africa – France Joint Economic Commission (SA – France JEC).
Total trade between South Africa and France has grown by an annual average rate of 6.2% from 2010 to 2015. Currently major South Africa’s exports to France include vehicles, aircrafts, machinery and automobiles, while imports from France include pharmaceuticals, electrical and electronic equipment, turbo jets and vaccines for human use.
“The MBCC and its cluster participants will continue to work together with the DTI and the French Embassy to turn the recent agreement into a portfolio of composite relevant activities, which will include attending the JEC composites trade show in France in 2018,” van Rijswijk said. “The MBCC applauds local and overseas Government representatives for their efforts in supporting the composites industry."