‘SA should diversify trade’

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South Africa needs to look in other parts of the world and diversify its trade and not focus only on Europe, Finance minister Pravin Gordhan said on Wednesday.

South Africa’s strong trade relations with Europe have made the biggest economy in Africa particularly vulnerable to the impact of a sovereign debt crisis in that region.

Nearly a third of South Africa’s exports are destined for the eurozone and another third goes to Asia.

“The opportunity for South Africa is to recognise that relying on one part of the world for its trade is not a good strategy in the 21st century,” Gordhan said in an interview on Talk Radio 702.

“There are immense opportunities on the African continent . . . immense opportunities in other parts (of the world) in developing countries,” he added.

When asked about what impact calls for nationalisation and land grabs, made by the youth wing of the ruling African National Congress party, could have, Gordhan said such vibrant political discourse was not unique to South Africa.

“(But) we are a developing country and we need to go to extraordinary lengths to inspire confidence so that people will invest in our economy and create jobs,” he said.

“We do need to be mindful that public utterances coming from anybody matter and do make a difference,” he said. Gordhan declined to comment on whether he would cut interest rates if it was up to him alone.