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Media briefing addressed by the Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies and the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Mr Roberto Azevedo. 
The briefing also focussed on the post Nairobi work programme. 17/03/2016, Imbizo Media Centre, Parliament, Cape Town. Elmond Jiyane, GCIS

Invest SA working with World Bank to improve ease of doing business – Davies

The South African government’s Invest SA is working with the World Bank to improve the ease of doing business in the country, says the Minister of Trade and Industry of Rob Davies.

This follows the release on Tuesday of the World Bank’s Doing Business report which saw South Africa slide eight places to 82 position out of 190 countries.

“Invest SA has formalised a relationship with the World Bank to address South Africa’s ranking in its annual Ease of Doing Business survey and overall investment climate issues over the medium to long term,” he said, responding to emailed questions yesterday from Ventureburn.

He said this was part of a “business unusual” approach that Invest SA had adopted to attracting and securing both foreign and domestic investment.

Read more: Here are the 10 easiest places in Africa to run a business reveals World Bank

He said a number of technical working groups comprised of government departments, agencies and the private sector had been set up to “identify blockages and interventions to improve on the time and cost of processes”.

Attracting investors to startup ecosystem

While Invest SA was working with an investment pipeline of R42.7-billion during the first and second quarter of the financial year, Davies said Invest SA is currently in talks with investors from the UK, US and France, as well as from Nordic countries, that are keen on investing in South Africa’s startup ecosystem.

“Through our government engagements and bilateral relations, we have encouraged the collaboration and support for incubation of tech startups. An example is an initiative with the French Government on the French Tech Centre in Cape town,” he said.

He said since the its launch in September, Invest SA’s one stop shop in Cape Town has had a total of 369 walk-in visitors, held 333 investor consultations, had 15 committed investment and fielded a total of 770 investment related queries.

The one stop shop offers a number of services from advice on permits, licensing and registrations.

“There is easy access to the departments of home affairs, labour, environmental affairs, trade and industry and agencies such as the companies and Intellectual Property Commission, South African Revenue Services and Eskom,” he added.

He said Invest SA through the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Investment is also able to escalate and unblock, fast track and reduce red tape in government.

Davies pointed out a case in point where a company operating in the water and energy sector got bogged down with regulatory issues for up to five months. Following the intervention of Invest SA and assistance from the one stop shop, the matter was resolved in 30 minutes.

Commenting on the effects a slowing economy and negative credit ratings by Moody’s, Fitch and S&P Global has had on potential foreign investors, Davies said the economic downgrades have “impacted negatively” perceptions held by investors that the country is a good investment destination.

To counter that Invest SA he said had “beefed up its investment facilitation and aftercare approach through the one stop shop approach”.

Davies added that Invest SA meets with investors across various platforms on an ongoing basis to “proactively discuss investment opportunities and address the concerns of foreign investors”. “We have frank and open engagements to address investors’ concerns,” he added.

Featured image: GovernmentZA via Flickr (CC 2.0 BY-ND, resized)