Minister Patel to participate in key G20 Trade Ministers Meeting in Japan

With hardly a week to settle down the newly appointed Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Ebrahim Patel will represent South Africa at two key international meetings of countries involved in determining the future direction of international trade. The G20 Joint Trade and Digital Economy Ministers and the G20 Trade Ministers Meeting will be held on 8 and 9 June in Tsukuba, Japan.  This visit signals the re-doubling of efforts to grow South Africa’s economy by deepening our links with key international partners and actively participating in shaping the Multilateral Trading System.

The Trade Ministers Meeting will focus on

  • current international trade developments,
  • the creation of enabling business environments to grow investments that contribute to sustainable and inclusive growth and
  • developments in the World Trade Organisation.

Minister Patel said that the G20 Trade Ministers meeting is taking place at a time when the multilateral trading system is facing unprecedented challenges. He stated that South Africa supports an inclusive, development-centred and rules-based multilateral trading system with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) at its core. The Trade Ministers meeting has the potential for a constructive dialogue with our international partners to avoid a destructive trade war that could limit growth and creation of jobs in South Africa.

A significant part of South Africa’s GDP performance is driven by trade.
He noted that “South Africa is concerned that the WTO is facing an existential crisis as the Appellate Body is likely to be dysfunctional by December 2019 if the current impasse in the appointments of members of the Appellate Body is not expeditiously resolved. A functional dispute settlement mechanism is a cornerstone of the multilateral trading system and essential to the functioning of the WTO. There is therefore a need for constructive discussions by all the Members of the WTO as an immediate priority to resolve the impasse.”

The Joint meeting of the Trade and Digital Economy Ministers will discuss the interface between trade and the digital economy.

Minister Patel said that “Digital and other new technologies are transforming the world and economies and South Africa must not be left behind. These technologies are reshaping traditional manufacturing and logistics systems. What we produce and how we produce it, will all change as the new technologies enter production chains”

“Our immediate need is to create more jobs for young people. We must therefore focus our efforts as South Africans on upgrading productive capabilities, diversifying the economy, moving up the value chain and ensuring that we have a greater share of the benefits of international production and trade. This requires a focused discussion on the framework for the digital economy that can help with harnessing digital and other new technologies for our industrial policy. There are opportunities to make established industries more responsive and competitive and to develop new industries,” said Minister Patel.

“In addition to the work we need to do with international partners, we must forge a strong partnership with industry to get South Africa ready for the new technologies”, he added.

Sidwell Medupe-Departmental Spokesperson
Tel: (012) 394 1650
Mobile: 079 492 1774
Issued by: The Department of Trade and Industry
Follow us on Twitter: @the_dti

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