South African Business Leaders Look to Forge Trade Links with North East England Counterparts Following Decline in Export Numbers

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South African Business leaders are looking to forge trade links with their counterparts from Great Britain, particularly in the North East England region.

A delegation of senior South African politicians is currently working with the Stephenson-Mohl Group – Newcastle-based business consultancy – following a three-day visit seeking to establish business links and potential investment opportunities between the two regions.

The meetings come at a time when an estimated 227,000 South Africans reside in the United Kingdom.

Meanwhile, a study from international affairs think tank, Chatham House, indicates that trade between the two regions has fluctuated in recent years.

Chatham House research found that from 1998 to 2003 Britain was South Africa’s third largest source of imports after which it then dropped to sixth largest in 2008.

The think tank’s analysis confirmed that the UK was the top recipient of South African exports in 2001 and 2002 but dropped to fourth largest by 2008.

Exports from South Africa to the UK are dominated by precious stones, mineral products, vehicles, machinery and mechanical products, fruit and vegetable products, base metals and articles, prepared foodstuffs and beverages. Exports from the British to South Africa are dominated by turbo jets, turbo propellers, gas turbines, machinery, mechanical appliances, electrical equipment, vehicles and chemicals.

In light of these developments, representatives from more than 40 North East firms this week met with senior delegation members.

They included the Mayor of Durban, Coun Zandile Gumede, and business leaders from some of South Africa’s most prominent firms.

The delegates met at law firm Ward Hadaway’s Quayside offices in North East England.

At the event, Mayor Gumede led the delegation, engaging in discussions around key sectors including education, tourism, energy and leisure.

“The delegation is keen to explore investment opportunities for North East businesses in South Africa, as well as to trade in goods across many industries and sectors,” the Mayor explained following the visit this week.

It emerged in early June that the three-day visit would feature roundtable and networking events in Newcastle, Tees Valley and County Durham, with senior regional business leaders and politicians.

“The event is all about showcasing ingenuity and talent on offer in the region’s business community, as well as creating a forum for businesses to meet and share experiences,” explained Mark Whitehead, a consultant with the company and commercial team at Ward Hadaway.



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