South Africa, Russia Business Leaders Explore Ways to Boost Economic Ties
Payment systems, mutual settlement, seaport logistics and the energy crisis were among the issues discussed by business leaders and representatives from South Africa and Russia on the sidelines of the Russia-Africa summit in St Petersburg on Friday.
Organized by the Russia-Africa Business Council and hosted by the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the business dialogue between Russia and South Africa was dedicated to developing long-term business relations. The Russia-Africa Business Council organized the event.
Pavel Yakovlev, Chairman of the Russia-South Africa Business Council, Director General of AZ Ural, and Ekaterina Lebedeva, Vice President of Saint-Petersburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry, moderated the meeting.
Vladimir Katenev, the President of the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said trade turnover increased by more than 20 per cent in the first quarter of 2023.
At the end of last year, we supplied goods worth $191 million from South Africa to St Petersburg. At the same time, we exported goods worth $13.7 million. The main products we export are fruits. In January, a ship with 2 thousand tonnes of fresh fruit arrives in St. Petersburg every year, which immediately ends up in the city’s shops,” said Katenev.
He said the mutual settlement was among the existing problems in trade relations between Russia and Africa, including South Africa.
“Just the other day, we discussed the scheme of mutual settlements with the Minister of Economy of Egypt, who suggested returning to the barter scheme. Currently, it is not very regulated in our tax and customs legislation, but it could work quite well.”
Katenev added that the issue requires further elaboration.
Mzuvukile Maqetuka, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of South Africa to the Russian Federation, praised the role of the Northern Capital of the Russian Federation for the Russian-African ties.
“The Russian branch of the Business Council is very well known to us and to me in particular due to the activities of some programmes, such as, for example, the country’s Sub-Committee on Agriculture and Food. St Petersburg, in general, is strategically important to South Africa. I think about 90 per cent of the imports that come into the Russian Federation come into St Petersburg. One of the most priority areas for us is the sphere of South African seaport logistics,” Maqetuka said.
Elias Monage, Chairman of the Black Business National Council and executive chairman of Afika Group, said the payment system, infrastructure development and energy crisis were among the challenges facing African countries.
“Some of the issues that we as a business organization need to put together are around the payment system in the absence of a solution to the current trade. The second part of the problem that we think needs to be addressed is the issue of cooperation, harmonization and – in terms of the projects that we are running from both countries, especially from the South African perspective – the issue of the energy crisis.
“It requires a cooperative approach and different modalities that we need to discuss, whether it’s gas, water, or energy components, to overcome it. Infrastructure development is also important to us. Given the history of your country, we see coherence in addressing these issues,” Monage said.
Shalen Singh, the Director of Depijet, added that the media sphere had indeed become a powerful category that shaped public perception and influenced decision-making that paved the way for the new economy.
“As we go down this path, we cannot ignore the enormous potential that exists within our countries and the contribution of individuals, gatherings of businessmen and entrepreneurs who are doing the work. South Africa and Russia have not fully realized their potential. Sharing the content of national media plays a crucial role,” said Singh.
Ksenia Komissarova, the editor-in-chief of TV BRICS, said the topics of economic cooperation between Russia and South Africa and business cooperation were a priority for her media network.
“Our reports and text news in Russian are translated into English, Portuguese and Chinese and sent to the network’s media partners for publication on their resources, for foreign audiences. Today TV BRICS already has more than 50 such partners. These are national media, including the largest ones from the BRICS countries, Africa, Eurasia and Latin America. In return, we also receive content from them, which we translate, adapt, post ourselves and share with our partners. This multilateral exchange allows us to obtain and disseminate high-quality information about the economy as a whole and its individual industries, using the examples of operating companies. In this way, we contribute to their promotion and recognition,” she said.
Komissarova added that a series of documentaries about gold mining in Russia has been shown in South Africa, and were aired by the media network’s partners.
“Soon, we plan to show a film on silver mining as well. It is encouraging that the economic and business agenda of Russia and South Africa is becoming wider and wider. This means that we will definitely have something to talk about and thus continue to contribute to strengthening cooperation between the two countries,” she said.
In addition, the meeting included the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Russia-South Africa Business Council and the Chelyabinsk Region Chamber of Commerce and Industry, as well as the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Russia-South Africa Business Council and National Coordination Centre for the Development of Economic Relations with Asia-Pacific Countries.
African Times published the article in partnership with TV BRICS, an international media network. https://tvbrics.com/en/news/st-petersburg-chamber-of-commerce-and-industry-hosts-the-russia-south-africa-business-dialogue/