400 jobs created with Chinese deal

Port Elizabeth – The production of up to 5 000 trucks at the newly
launched First Automobile Works (FAW) vehicle assembly plant in Coega,
Port Elizabeth, is good news for job creation in the country.

Speaking before President Jacob Zuma launched the R600-million plant on
Thursday, Trade and Industry Minister Dr Rob Davies, said hundreds of
jobs would result from FAW operations in the Eastern Cape.

Located in Zone 2 of the Coega Industrial Development Zone (IDZ), the
production plant is funded jointly by China FAW Group Corporation and
the China-Africa Development Fund. It is one of the largest investments
made by a Chinese company in the country.

“We are welcoming phase one today, which will see the production of up
to 5 000 trucks in this plant creating 400 jobs.

“The second phase, which is envisaged to manufacture 30 000 passenger
vehicles, can increase jobs to a thousand.

“We know that we can multiply those jobs if and when we start
attracting the component manufactures to come here and be part of the
programme as well,” he said.

Minister Davies said the unveiling of the Chinese vehicle manufacturing
plant in South Africa is the culmination of a journey his department
took to engage the Eastern Cape provincial government and the Coega
Development Corporation to get a Chinese motor manufacturer to operate
in South Africa.

Right choice to invest in Africa

President Jacob Zuma, who officially launched the assembly plant, said
FAW had chosen the right continent in which to invest at this point in
world economic history.

He said the African continent is home to some of the fastest growing
economies in the world and there remains greater potential for further
growth, particularly in the transport of goods as trade volumes
increase.

“The entire African continent is also embarking on an intensive
infrastructure development aimed at also encouraging intra-Africa trade
through improved connectivity.

“The Regional Economic Communities, namely the Southern African
Development Community, Common Market for East and Southern Africa and
the East African Community, are in negotiations to achieve a Free Trade
Area (FTA).

“The project will bring together 26 countries with a combined
population of 600 million and an overall GDP of approximately US $2
trillion,” he said.

The FTA would present significant opportunities and the right climate
for doing business.

Sustainable energy for growing business

President Zuma said in order to make the country globally competitive,
South Africa would have to focus on ensuring a secure supply of energy.
The focus over the next five years would be on building a sustainable
energy mix that includes coal, solar, wind, nuclear and shale gas.

The President said he expected to see an increase in inter-country
trade, and also initiatives to help landlocked countries access
harbours.

“Also envisaged is the creation of much needed direct routes between
capitals of the continent and to promote the economic and social
integration of Africa.

“The increase in trade will contribute towards a growing demand for
heavy commercial vehicles, thus expanding markets for FAW and other
companies in this sector,” he said.

In line with the National Development Plan (NDP) and the New Growth
Path (NGP), government is investing heavily in local and continental
infrastructure development in the medium to long term.

Chinese Ambassador to South Africa, Tia Xuejun, said: “I believe FAW
South Africa would make efforts to yield a double harvest of both
economic benefit and social benefit by profoundly integrating with the
local communities and earnestly performing its social responsibilities,
while being devoted to its production and operation.

“I am also convinced that the South African government, especially at
the local level of this province, will continue to care and support the
follow-up development of this plant, and provide guidance in accordance
with laws and regulations necessary to guarantee [this] production and
operation.”