EM10 and Africa: South Africa in Africa a steady, yet narrow, ascent

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1 Insight & Strategy EM1 and Africa: South Africa in Africa a steady, yet narrow, ascent 11 June 212 Highlights Africa s improved growth trajectory has clearly manifested in South Africa s commercial relations with continent. Last year, SA s trade with the Rest of Africa (RoA) exceeded ZAR22 billion (bn) (approx. USD3bn), 17% of SA s total trade with the world. In 21, SA was the RoA s third-largest EM1 trade partner behind only China and India. Importantly, SA exports to the RoA are predominantly of value-added goods. In 211, SA ran a ZAR4bn trade surplus with the RoA (excl. SACU), compared to a ZAR68bn deficit with Asia. Research Analysts Simon Freemantle* Jeremy Stevens* As both a cause and consequence of elevated trade, SA s investment stock in Africa has swelled, from ZAR14.7bn in 21 to ZAR121bn in 21 (21% of its total outward FDI stock). In a recent survey, 94% of SA CEOs interviewed expected their businesses in the RoA to grow in the next 12 months. SA s success in securing market share within key SADC economies has been powerful. Last year, SA was the largest import partner for nine out of thirteen current SADC states; more than 5 large JSE-listed firms are active in Namibia, Botswana, Zambia and Mozambique. Yet, despite these advances, SA s commercial prospectus in the RoA remains constrained: First, insufficient product complementarity, pervasive logistical hindrances, and SA s own dwindling competitiveness, mean that trade growth with the continent has lagged. Since 21, SA-RoA trade has expanded three-fold, compared to a sixteen-fold increase in China-Africa trade. Second, SA s trade and investment profile in Africa is geographically limited: last year, almost 9% of SA exports to the RoA were absorbed by SADC economies. SA is poorly aligned to most of Africa s largest and/or fastest-growing markets. In 211,.5% of SA exports to Africa were directed to Egypt, and 4% to Nigeria. This contrasted with China s focused export strategy in 211, 16% of Chinese exports to Africa were directed to Nigeria, and 13% to Egypt. Of the continent s ten fastest-growing economies, South Africa enjoys strong access in Zambia and Mozambique, but gains are moderate across North, West and much of East Africa. Third, SA s weak economic diplomacy hinders more fluid commercial gains. The state-led penetration of African markets by leading emerging economies, such as China and Brazil, has shone a torch on the manner in which the historical misalignment between SA state and private sector objectives and strategies on the continent has tended to subordinate the country s commercial advantages outside of its immediate environment. These shortcomings shine a torch on South Africa s ability to act as the continent s commercial gateway. SA s arc of competitiveness currently includes its neighbouring countries, as well as Zambia, Malawi, and, to some extent, Angola, southern DRC and Tanzania. Beyond these markets, SA s real competitive edge wanes. Meanwhile, alternative regional hubs are emerging firms realise the need for a multi-entry strategy to access deeper Pan African gains. Much of SA s long-term competitiveness rests on the tone, scale and scope of engagement with the rest of the continent. In essence, Africa must be placed at the centre of SA s foreign and commercial policies. Meanwhile, a realistic stance on the country s gateway status should be adopted, manufacturing competitiveness must be elevated, and a wider arc of economies incorporated in SA s bid to align more clearly to the nexus of Africa s growth potential. Since May 29, we have been scripting a monthly report on BRIC and Africa relations. This focus has been necessary, particularly given China, India and Brazil s dramatic (though varied) advances on the continent. Yet, increasingly, reference to BRIC-Africa relations falls short in explaining the broad sweep of new partnerships Africa has forged over the course of the past decade. As such, the BRIC and Africa series will henceforth become the EM1 and Africa series, allowing an incorporation of wider developments shaping Africa s course. This is the third report in the EM1 and Africa series. Please refer to the disclaimer at the end of this document.

2 Asia Europe Africa (incl.sacu) Americas Oceania China India South Africa Brazil Turkey Nigeria Saudi Arabia Russia Thailand Indonesia Insight & Strategy 11 June 212 Introduction As Africa s growth gathers momentum, increasingly enjoying structural base, focus is centering on how, and to what extent, South Africa is participating in, contributing to, and, ultimately, benefiting from this altering landscape. While it is abundantly clear that the rest of Africa (RoA) offers deep potential for South African firms, adequate positioning to reap appropriate and meaningful rewards rests on a sober assessment of relative strategic advantages and structural shortcomings. South Africa s Africa trade ties matter An improvement in Africa s growth trajectory has undoubtedly manifested in South Africa s trade relations with the rest of the continent. Last year, excluding exports to fellow Southern African Customs Union (SACU) member states (which are not measured by the South African Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in its aggregate Africa trade figures), South Africa-RoA trade volumes surpassed ZAR15bn (approximately USD21bn), representing an almost 3% increase on 21 trade volumes (Figure 1). Exports to Africa clearly represent the bulk of South Africa s trade with the continent. According to the DTI, in 211 the country exported ZAR94.6bn to the RoA (excluding SACU), a three-fold increase from exports of ZAR32.1bn in 2. In fact, in 211, three-quarters of South Africa-RoA trade was made up of South African exports to the continent. Including SACU trade figures paints an even more compelling picture. Consider that, according to SACU, in 21 South Africa exported roughly the same amount (ZAR85bn) to SACU countries as it did to the rest of the continent combined. Thus, by including exports to SACU members, South Africa-RoA trade in 21 amounted to almost ZAR22bn, and Africa s share of South Africa s total trade with the world increases to 17%, from 11%. In 211, South Africa was Africa s tenth-largest export partner if SACU is included this could elevate to fifth, outmuscled only by China, France, the United States (US), and Germany. Overall, in 21, South Africa was the third-largest EM1 trade partner for Africa (when excluding EM1-South Africa trade), only marginally behind India (Figure 2). Not only is trade with the RoA sizeable, but South Africa runs a trade surplus with the continent. This surplus contrasts with structural, and concerning, deficits with most of the country s other significant trade partners (Figure 3). Indeed, where South Africa ran a ZAR4bn trade surplus with the RoA in 211 (including SACU, this surplus swells to a little over ZAR1bn), it had a ZAR68bn deficit with Asia (including a ZAR16bn deficit with China), and a ZAR61bn deficit with Europe. Figure 1: SA exports have driven trade with the RoA 16, 12, 8, 4, ZARm South African exports to Africa (excl.sacu) South African imports from Africa Africa trade as a % of total trade (RHS) Figure 2: EM1-Africa trade, 21 (excl. EM1-SA trade) USDbn Africa (ex.sa) trade, 21 Share of EM1-Africa trade Sources: WTO, ITC, Standard Bank Research Figure 3: SA runs a meaningful trade surplus with the RoA 12, 6, -6, -12, 211 trade balance, ZARm 36% 25% 27% 11% 1% Share of total exports Sources: DTI, SACU, Standard Bank Research 2

3 Insight & Strategy 11 June 212 South Africa exports higher value-added goods to the RoA. Consider that, of total South African exports to the RoA in 211, 2% were made up of machinery, mechanical appliances and electrical equipment, almost 1% were vehicles and aircraft, 8% prepared foodstuffs, and 7% plastics and articles of plastic. This compared to the fact that 85% of exports to Asia last year were made up of mineral products, pearls and precious or semi-precious stones and precious metals, and base metals. Investment follows trade northwards As both a cause and consequence of elevated trade, South Africa s foreign direct investment (FDI) stock on the continent has swelled. As measured by the South African Reserve Bank (SARB), in 21, South Africa had an FDI stock of ZAR121bn in Africa, equivalent to one-fifth of its total outward investment stock, and slightly superior to South Africa s FDI stock in Asia. Importantly, South Africa s investment profile in Africa has increased relatively swiftly. Consider that, in the decade between 21 and 21, South Africa s investment stock in Europe increased by just 1.5 times, whereas in Africa, 21 levels were almost nine times larger than in 21 (Figure 4). Generally, South African firms favour investing smaller amounts in a wider array of projects (Figure 5). Cumulative new South African investments (ranked by project number rather than nominal value) in Africa have grown at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 65% since 27, far swifter than all of Africa s other prominent investment partners. According to Who Owns Whom, there are almost 1 large JSE-listed firms with established multi-country operations in the RoA. While much of the attention on the South African private sector s northward ascent has been focused on banks (primarily the big four ), retailers (Shoprite, PEP), telecommunications firms (MTN, Vodacom), and construction companies (Group 5, WBHO), the depth of expansion has incorporated a wide arc of corporate entities. For instance, clothing retailer Pep is active in 1 countries, Altron (through Altech) in six countries (though present in a further 16 countries if including Bytes and Powertech), Africa Cellular Towers in six countries (including Chad and the DRC), and Aveng Grinaker LTA in eight countries. Meanwhile, Famous Brands, which operates the Debonairs and Steers franchises, has outlets in 14 African countries, including Cote d Ivoire, Nigeria and Mauritius. Across the board, much of the thrust of South Africa s corporate footprint is SADCfocused, though the three larger economies in the East African Community (EAC), Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, have also provided access. In West Africa, for the most part, South Africa s corporate footprint is limited to Nigeria and Ghana (Figure 6). Meanwhile, foreign-owned multinational corporations (MNCs), such as Kraft Foods, Kimberly-Clark, Figure 4: SA s FDI stock in Africa has swelled FDI stock by destination, ZARbn FDI stock in Africa as a % of total Sources: UNCTAD, SARB, Standard Bank Research Figure 5: Cumulative new FDI projects: Africa s top 1 US France UK India UAE South Africa Spain Germany Canada Portugal 6.9% 16.6% Europe Africa Asia All other Sources: Ernst & Young, fdi Intelligence, Standard Bank Research Figure 6: Prominent JSE-listed firms RoA footprint Sources: Who Owns Whom, Standard Bank Research 21% -25% % 25% 5% 75% CAGR (27-11) Contribution to total (23-11) 3

4 Asia Europe Africa (ex.sacu) Americas Oceania Not allocated Insight & Strategy 11 June 212 Lafarge, and, Wal-Mart (following its recent acquisition of Massmart) also leverage their South African bases as means to unlock wider regional opportunities. Looking ahead, surveys measuring the African expansion plans of leading South African firms indicate that FDI is likely to continue to spread north of the border. Indicatively, in PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) 14th Annual Global CEO Survey (211), 94% of South African CEOs interviewed expected their businesses in Africa to grow in the next 12 months, while 84% believed emerging markets to be more important to their companies futures than developed markets (this compared to a global average of 58%). Figure 7: South African exports to the world ZARm 24, 18, 14% of total exports 12, 6, Yet, there is clear room for improvement Despite accounting for 17% of South Africa s total trade and 21% of outward investment, the RoA s profile in South Africa s overall commercial prospectus remains somewhat limited nominally, but especially geographically. Standard Bank believes that: South Africa does not trade enough with Africa; South Africa s trade and investment profile in Africa is clearly geographically constrained, casting doubt on the country s legitimate gateway status and ability to participate in the RoA s improving growth prognosis; and South Africa s weak economic diplomacy hinders more fluid, deeper Pan-African, commercial gains. South Africa does not trade enough with Africa Last year, the RoA absorbed 14% of South Africa s total exports to the globe (roughly 24% when including SACU) substantially inferior to total exports to Asia, and Europe (Figure 7). Three principle causal factors underlie this relative underperformance: Figure 8: SA s top five exports (211, ZARbn) Vehicles and aircraft Machinery, mechanical appliances, electronic equipment Base metals Mineral products Pearls, precious/semiprecious stones and metals Exports to Africa (ex.sacu) Exports to Asia Figure 9: Pearls, precious stones and metals exports, 211 (i) Insufficient product complementarity. Put simply, South Africa s largest exports to the world find little traction in smaller, less industrialised, African economies, particularly when contrasted to exports to Asia (Figure 8). Last year, Asia mopped up 65% of South Africa s total exports of mineral products (compared to 7% by the RoA), 45% of South African base metals exports (compared to 19% by the RoA), and 23% of gold, platinum and diamond exports (compared to.1% by the RoA) (Figure 9). Overall, just 7% of South Africa s exports of its top three product categories were absorbed by RoA trade partners. Not allocated 42% Asia 23% Europe 26% Americas 9% Africa.1% Meanwhile, structural incongruities mean that South Africa s imports from the RoA are also minimal further impinging deeper bilateral trade volumes. In 211, South Africa imported just ZAR56bn from the RoA (75% of which were im- 4

5 Angola Botswana DRC Lesotho Malawi Mauritius Mozambique Namibia Seychelles Swaziland Tanzania Zambia Zimbabwe Machinery, mechanical appliances, Products of chemical or allied ind. Prepared foodstuffs Plastics and articles of plastic Vehicles and aircraft Pulp of wood Insight & Strategy 11 June 212 ports of mineral products, principally from Nigeria, Angola and Mozambique). Less than 8% of South Africa s total imports from the world come from the RoA. In large part (ii) Logistical hindrances to trade are powerful. Even where South Africa s exports do marry with RoA demand dynamics, the continent s vast geography and persistent barriers to the fluidity of trade impinge on deeper engagements. Overall, total intra-african trade volumes are around 1%-12% of the continent s total trade with the world. A myriad factors account for these blockages, but most obviously is the weakness of transport infrastructure linking African economies. Meanwhile, pervasive tariff and non-tariff barriers are powerful deterrents. A truck moving from Zimbabwe to South Africa may have to pass through up to 2 administrative and bureaucratic checks, causing costly delays. The cost of transport in Africa is roughly 4% higher than the developing world average. The need to overcome these obstacles is emphasised by the profound success South African exporters of value-added goods continue to enjoy in many SADC markets (naturally emboldened by lower tariff structures). In 211 the RoA (excl. SACU) absorbed 36% of South African machinery, mechanical appliances and electronic equipment exports with exports to the RoA five times larger in this product category than to Asia. In vehicles, too, gains are evident. Last year, South Africa exported ZAR6bn worth of vehicles to the RoA (excl. SACU), 13% of its total vehicle exports to the world. Exports of prepared foodstuffs (ex. SACU) totalled almost ZAR7.2bn (55% of its total exports to the world) (Figure 1). Exports to SACU map these convergences, too. In 21, 2% of South Africa s exports to Botswana were of machinery or vehicles, while Namibia bought ZAR4.8bn worth of vehicles and ZAR3.2bn worth of machinery and mechanical appliances from South Africa. In 21, 73% of Botswana s imports, 96% of Lesotho s imports, 72% of Namibia s imports and 88% of Swaziland s imports, came from South Africa. South Africa is the largest import source for nine of its thirteen SADC partner states (excluding currently suspended Madagascar) (Figure 11). (iii) Dwindling competitiveness. While South Africa still ranks favourably in most metrics measuring its attractiveness as an investment destination, sub-par domestic growth, declining productivity coupled with rising labour costs, and policy uncertainty are conspiring to alter course particularly in light of improving fundamentals across competing emerging world economies. Indicatively, since 1995 the unit labour cost in the manufacturing sector in South Africa has increased by 143%, while the sector as a whole has grown by just over 2% since 27. According to UASA, the overall nominal unit labour cost is six times higher in South Africa than in the OECD (Figure 12). And, despite its profound mineral resources, South Africa ranks a lowly 54th out of 93 countries in the Fraser Institute s survey of mining sector Figure 1: Key SA exports to Africa, exports to Africa, ZARm % of total exports to the world (RHS) Figure 11: SA-SADC linkages are powerful Imports from South Africa, ZARm (21) % of total imports (RHS) Figure 12: South Africa productivity lagging costs Unit labour costs South Africa OECD Sources: UASA, Standard Bank Research

6 Insight & Strategy 11 June 212 attractiveness. Put simply, South Africa s ability to attract investment and competitively produce the goods for which there is increasing consumer demand in the RoA is waning. South Africa s trade and investment profile in Africa is geographically constrained While South Africa s focus in SADC markets is clear with concomitant advantages it is also limiting. Last year, almost 9% of South Africa s exports to Africa were absorbed by SADC partner states, with just 6% and 5% directed at West Africa, and the rest of East Africa, respectively (Figure 13). Figure 14 adequately maps this prioritisation the only meaningful African export partners for South Africa outside of SADC in 211 were Nigeria and Kenya. In 211, South African exports to Kenya totalled ZAR5.5bn, making South Africa Kenya s fourth-largest source of goods for the year. However, of total Kenyan imports from the world in 211, only 5% came from South Africa and South African exports to Kenya have expanded slowly (enjoying just a three-fold increase since 21). In 211, South Africa exported ZAR4.8bn to Nigeria, up three-fold since 21 (though still down 32% from 28 peaks of ZAR7.1bn). Figure 13: SA exports to Africa, SADC-skewed East Africa (rest) 5% Central Africa (rest) 1% North Africa 1% Sources: DTI, SACU, Standard Bank Research Figure 14: SA exports to Africa, 211 West Africa 6% SADC 87% South Africa s corporate footprint echoes this SADC and East Africa bias. Quite clearly, when South African firms engage ambitiously in RoA expansion, the scope for this spread falls predominantly, if not entirely, on regional partners and, increasingly, Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana. Considering the geographical footprint of leading South African firms provides a cogent indicator of where South Africa has focused on the continent. First, the growing footprint of South Africa s big four banks, which are often regarded as spearheading corporate expansion into the rest of the continent, shows clear allegiances to the country s export spread (Figure 15). Considering the recent opening of its first branch in South Sudan (Juba), as well as operations in the DRC, Ghana and Nigeria, Standard Bank is the most widely spread of South Africa s large banks. Yet, as with its local competitors, it has no physical presence across North, Central, and much of West Africa. ABSA s relatively limited RoA expansion is of course balanced with that of its parent, Barclays, which has established operations in Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria, Botswana, Uganda, Mauritius, Seychelles, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Though Nedbank enjoys wider access through its partnership with Togobased Ecobank, its independent physical presence outside of SACU is limited to Zimbabwe and Malawi. With the exception of Mozambique (Standard Bank, First Rand and ABSA), Angola and the DRC (Standard Bank), operations across the board are also strongly hinged on Anglophone Africa. Second, a similar portrait is clear when considering five prominent supermarket and retail chains (Figure 16). While RoA expansion has certainly quickened in recent years (for Sources: WTO, ITC, DTI, Standard Bank Research Figure 15: SA s big four banks presence in the RoA Sources: Various company reports, Standard Bank Research 6

7 Libya Zambia Mozambique Angola Tanzania Ghana DRC Nigeria Burkina Faso Kenya Uganda Ethiopia Nigeria Egypt Algeria Angola Morocco Libya Sudan Tunisia Kenya Ghana Insight & Strategy 11 June 212 Text box 1: Questioning SA s gateway status Figure 16: SA retailers have moved in concert into the RoA These constraints to deeper RoA trade shine a torch on South Africa s ability to act as the continent s investment gateway. Sure, South Africa still has Africa s most sophisticated financial system and infrastructure network, as well as one of the most reliable regulatory environments but the continent s sheer size and complexity renders a single entry strategy problematic. Regional hubs are becoming more realistic: General Electric recently joined Coca-Cola and Nestle in opting to locate its Sub-Saharan African headquarters in Nairobi. Access to North African markets can be run through Cairo, Tunis, or even southern Europe or the Middle East. It seems evident that South Africa s arc of access at present includes its neighbouring countries, as well as Zambia, Malawi, and, to some extent, Angola, southern DRC and Tanzania. Beyond these markets, South Africa s real competitive advantage wanes. That said, as African economies continue to open to investment, the captive and growing management knowledge within the South African private sector on how to negotiate risks and prosper in these challenging frontier markets will prove to be a defined competitive edge. Sources: Various company reports, Standard Bank Research Figure 17: Africa s ten largest economies (excl.sa) instance, PEP entered the Angolan market in 28 and is anticipating opening its first store in Nigeria this year and Pick n Pay is expecting to open six new stores in the RoA in Mozambique, Mauritius, Zambia and Zimbabwe this year), there is a clear (and of course mutually-enforcing) alignment to export relations. It also seems evident that South African retailers are spurred into expansionist activity by the movements of their competitors in essence, riding on the coat tails of firms such as Shoprite, which has a longer history in core RoA markets, having opened its first store in Zambia in 1995, Mozambique in 1997 and Angola in 23. Of course, not all South African firms have adopted this strategy. For instance, branded food company Tiger Brands has expanded into countries outside of South Africa s core commercial ambit most clearly evidenced by its presence in Ethiopia (East Africa Tiger Brands Industries) and its purchase of Chococam in Cameroon. Is South Africa competitive where it matters most? A consideration of South Africa s relatively focused RoA expansion must be balanced with an assessment of where the weight of commercial opportunity lies on the continent. In doing so, it is clear that South Africa is poorly aligned to most of the large and/or fastest-growing economies across much of West, North, and even East Africa. Indeed, none of the RoA s ten largest economies are prominent export partners for South Africa last year, less than.5% of South Africa s total exports were directed to Egypt, and 4% to Nigeria (with South Africa accounting for 1% of total imports). This contrasted with China s more focused export strategy in 211, 16% of Chinese exports to Africa were directed to Nigeria, GDP 212, USDbn SA exports as a % of total exports to Africa China exports as a %of total exports to Africa (ex.sa) Figure 18: Africa s fastest-growing (>USD1bn) economies Estimated GDP growth rate (212-17, %) SA exports as a % of total exports to Africa 7

8 Insight & Strategy 11 June 212 and 13% to Egypt (Figure 17). Figure 19: Chinese exports to Africa, 211 Considering Africa s fastest-growing large (GDP of USD1bn and above) economies provides slightly more opportunity for cheer. For the next five years, Zambia and Mozambique are expected to be two of Africa s fastest growing economies and, last year, 1% and 11% of South Africa s total exports to the continent, respectively, were directed to these economies (Figure 18). However, outside of these two economies, a similar lack of traction is manifest: in 211, South African exports to Ethiopia amounted to just ZAR185.6 million (m) (.2% of total exports to the RoA), making South Africa Ethiopia s 22nd-largest import source for the year. Meanwhile, 2% of Ethiopia s imports last year came from China, 9% from India and 5% from Turkey. Similarly, in 211, just 1.9% of South Africa s exports to the RoA were directed to Ghana, 3.9% to Kenya, and.9% to Uganda. Further comparisons with China are enlightening Last year, China s three largest export markets in Africa were South Africa, Nigeria and Egypt (Figure 19). According to China s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), there are at least 23 registered Chinese companies in Nigeria, almost 15 in South Africa, 13 in Zambia, 112 in Ethiopia (where strong state linkages have afforded preferential access for Chinese state and private enterprises) and 1 in Ghana. Clearly, China s focused alignment with large, swiftlyaccelerating and/or commodity rich economies has borne fruit. In 211, China exported USD35bn more to the RoA than South Africa a remarkable alteration since 25 when exports were roughly equal. Overall Chinese exports to the RoA have elevated twelve-fold in a decade, compared to a more modest three-fold increase in South African exports to the continent (Figure 2). That said, within its arc of competitiveness, South African exporters retain superior access to Chinese competitors. In fact, in 21, South African exports to Botswana were fifteen times greater than Chinese exports, and four times larger than Chinese exports to Zambia. The divergent geographical footprints are clearest when identifying specific products, such as vehicles and machinery. Last year South Africa exported roughly ZAR16bn (USD2.3bn) worth of vehicles to the RoA (incl. SACU), thus forming a prominent crutch of trade with the continent. In contrast, in 211 China exported roughly USD5.3bn worth of vehicles to Africa. Yet, importantly, export proficiencies vary. Considering countries in Africa to which South Africa and China exported more than USD1m worth of vehicles in 211, with the exception only of Algeria and Nigeria, South Africa and China enjoyed differential market access. South Africa s profile again hugs geographical synergies, while China s is more widespread (Figure 21). Sources: WTO, ITC, Standard Bank Research Figure 2: China has outpaced SA in exports to the RoA USDbn Chinese exports to Africa (excl. SA) South African exports to Africa Sources: DTI, ITC, Standard Bank Research Figure 21: Vehicle exports of >USD1m, 211 $35bn A similar case can be made for exports of machinery and mechanical appliances (Figure 22): in 211 Botswana was Sources: WTO, ITC, Standard Bank Research 8

9 Insight & Strategy 11 June 212 Figure 22: Machinery exports of >USD2m, 211 Sources: WTO, ITC, Standard Bank Research the only country in Africa where both South Africa and China exported more than USD2m worth of these products. In five other countries DRC, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique South African exports trumped those from China, in some cases by a considerable margin. Yet, China maintains growing advantages across core markets in North and West Africa again indicating a prioritisation based on long-term fundamentals. South Africa s weak economic diplomacy hinders more fluid commercial gains South Africa plays a prominent, though often ambiguous, role on the continent. Politically, in global terms, South Africa punches above its weight embodied by its status as a nonpermanent member of the United Nations Security Council, as well as membership of the Group of 2 (G2) and the BRICS group of prominent emerging world players. Under South Africa s former president, Thabo Mbeki, a strong focus on the elevation of South Africa s role in emboldening the African Union and internalising African conflict resolution mechanisms emphasised largely geo-political, rather than commercial aspects of South Africa s role in Africa s ongoing renewal. Meanwhile, politically-inspired tensions (often coupled with a refusal by many African states to acknowledge South Africa as the continent s legitimate representative at these multiple international forums) have in the past conspired to limit the fluidity of South African firms access in key RoA markets. In contrast to South Africa, the state-led penetration of African markets by other leading emerging economies, most clearly China and Brazil, has provided compelling evidence of the benefits of aligned economic diplomacy efforts in unlocking opportunities across Africa. China and Brazil have been particularly successful in leveraging official state visits to prioritised African economies as a means to broaden the participation of large state or private sector firms on the continent. This has, in turn, placed emphasis on the manner in which the historical misalignment between the South African state and private sector objectives and strategies on the continent has tended to subordinate the country s commercial advantages outside of its immediate environment. Indicatively, since assuming the presidency in 29, President Zuma has only paid official state visits to seven African countries including only two (to Uganda in March, 21, and Egypt in October, 21) outside of SADC (Figure 23). The fact that no official visits have been paid to Nigeria or Ethiopia, undoubtedly two of Sub-Saharan Africa s more alluring economies (and in the case of Ethiopia, offering stringent barriers to foreign investment), is surprising. The diplomatic focus placed on gaining entry to, and subsequently playing a role in, the loosely-defined BRICS group Figure 23: President Jacob Zuma s international visits since taking office in 29 Official state visits Working visits Visits to attend forums/official ceremonies 9 Sources: South African Government, Standard Bank Research

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