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Fri, 22 Sep 2017
South Africa and the UK recommit to enhance trade post Brexit...

South Africa and the United Kingdom have recommitted to enhance trade ahead of the UK leaving the European Union.

Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies and UK Secretary of State for International Trade, Dr Liam Fox, held a bilateral meeting on Tuesday in Tshwane.

“Both Ministers recommitted themselves to a seamless post Brexit in terms of trade and technical work will be intensified to ensure that the interim arrangements will be finalised before the United Kingdom leaves the European Union in 2019,” said the Department of Trade and Industry (dti).

The meeting also committed to further developing mutually beneficial trade and investment relations.

The United Kingdom remains a key investment partner for South Africa in terms of the total inward Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flows received from the rest of the world.  The UK has invested in 333 FDI projects in South Africa, with direct capital investment estimated at about R159.01 billion over the period of 2003 to May 2017.

“The UK has been a significant trading partner of SA over the past years and ranks as South Africa’s seventh largest export partner in the world and second largest export partner in the European Union region. There is a need to discuss an arrangement on technical issues in order to ensure smooth trade post Brexit,” said Minister Davies.

The two leaders’ meeting was a continuation of the ongoing high-level engagement between South Africa and the United Kingdom.

The Ministers’ meeting follows the Southern African Customs Union’s Trade Ministers’ meeting with the United Kingdom in July, where parties agreed that their trade relations should not be disrupted due to the Brexit process.

UK Export Finance (UKEF) — the UK’s export credit agency — has made additional funds available for UK companies exporting to South Africa and for South African buyers of UK goods and services to bolster trade between the two countries after Brexit.


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Wed, 20 Sep 2017
South Africa’s big 4 banks remain profitable

The big four South African banks remained profitable despite South Africa’s economic uncertainty, a PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report found.

For the six months ended June, the big four banks reported combined headline earnings of R35.9 billion, up 3.8 percent from the comparable period last year.

The PwC study presented the combined local currency results of Barclays Africa, FirstRand, Nedbank and Standard Bank.  The firm said it did not include other major players like Capitec and Investec because of their unique business mix and reporting periods. Johannes Grosskopf, the financial services leader for PwC Africa, said on Tuesday that despite the range of challenges and the degree of economic uncertainty currently facing the market, the domestic banking system remained profitable, well managed and robustly capitalised.

“In the short term, the major banks remain cautiously optimistic about their prospects. However, focusing on innovation, investment in technological advances, and executing on their strategies will be critical for the banks to ensure they can mitigate forecast risk and contend with the difficult conditions that are likely to continue for the remainder of 2017,” Grosskopf said.

Last week rating agency Moody’s said South Africa’s low economic growth would weaken the country’s banks’ loan quality and profitability in the next 12 to 18 months, with the rating agency maintaining a negative outlook on the country’s banking system.

Moody’s further said its views were consistent with the current negative outlook on the government rating and on the large banks’ ratings. The PwC analysis found that the banks combined return on equity grew by 25 basis points (bps) against the first half of 2016 from 17.6 percent to 17.9 percent, but contracted 73bps against the second half of 2016, further evidencing the earnings challenge experienced by the major banks over the first six months of this year.

From a lending perspective, the major banks reported marginal growth in combined gross loans and advances of 0.9 percent against the second half of 2016 from R3.4bn to R3.5bn and 0.7 percent against the first half of 2016. PwC said this was the ninth consecutive reporting period in which the combined cost-to-income ratio remained in the 54 percent to 56 percent range, highlighting the challenge to further contain costs in the current climate.

The analysis also found that 57 percent of the banks total operating expenses for the first half of the year related to staff costs. PwC said the major banks continued to maintain a healthy net interest margin of 4.42 percent, which showed a 5 bps expansion against the first half of 2016 while expanding more moderately by 3bps against the second half of last year Neelash Hansjee, a banking analyst at Old Mutual Equities, on Tuesday said that while a tough economy would take its toll on banks – especially with regards to their revenues – the larger South African banking sector had remained relatively resilient.

“The banking sector remains fairly protected by their strong balance sheets and the diversification of their earnings. However, there are significant risks on the horizon for the South African banks, namely a local currency downgrade by [...]

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Thu, 14 Sep 2017
Foreign investor to create 1000 jobs

Kwazulu-Natal and eThekwini Municipality continue to attract international investors with Chinese company Jingmen Hubei set to open two factories in Ezimbokodweni and Umgababa, south of Durban, and create 1000 employment opportunities.

This has been welcomed by Premier Willies Mchunu and eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede following the announcement by the Chinese delegation that was made at Umhlanga’s Oyster Box Hotel on 14 August. The development is a result of the relations forged between KwaZulu-Natal and Hubei Province, from the People’s Republic of China, located in the Central China region.

These two factories are an addition to a project in Cato Ridge where Jingmen Hubei has acquired a 60 percent stake in Shu Powders, cobalt powder manufacturer. The two new factories will feature a large recycling park which will specialise in recycling old vehicles, electronic scrap and rechargeable batteries.

Premier Mchunu said the development will help strengthen socio-economic relations between the two provinces. “In response to climate change challenges, the provincial government is forging partnerships with the business fraternity to help our country reduce carbon emissions and mitigate climate change,” he said.

Premier Mchunu added that government has launched a grassroots mobilisation campaign of waste collection focusing on recycling industries of various materials such as plastic, bottles and scrap. “The scrap metal industry alone in South Africa is worth between R15 and R20 billion a year and has the potential to create more employment. It is for these reasons that as the provincial government we are committed to working with Hubei Province to ensure that we create much needed jobs for local communities in the areas of recycling,” he explained.

KwaZulu-Natal is keen to take advantage of bilateral relations between South Africa and other countries including the BRICS bloc. Government will work with Jingmen Hubei to identify opportunities for local Small, Medium and Microsized Enterprises and black industrialists in particular to become major role-players in the two new factories, as suppliers or in the entire value chain of recycling. Vice Chairman of the Provincial Committee of People’s Congress, Fu Dehui said: “We pledge to continue working with the province of KwaZulu-Natal through focusing on recycling as a way to contribute to climate change. The two provinces will also focus on growing the economy and creating jobs.”


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