AWEX successfully concludes “South Africa focus market year”07/04/2016

For the last few years, the AWEX (Wallonia export-Investment Agency) has been choosing a ‘focus market’, to highlight the attractiveness of the country in question and to develop export opportunities for the Wallonian companies.

After Brazil in 2013, Switzerland in 2014, South Africa was identified as the market of the year 2015. “SA was chosen as our focus market of the year because of the high potential of the market and its neighbouring countries – and the fact that, despite this potential, Wallonia exports to SA are relatively low,” says Jean-Pierre Muller, head of Awex Johannesbourg. “Africa represents less than 2% of Wallonia’s total exports and, as our largest market on the continent, SA accounts for only 0.33% of our total exports. We believe there are many opportunities yet to be explored here by Wallonian companies and vice versa, hence our decision to focus on SA in 2015.”

Among the various initiatives taken by Awex in connexion with South Africa in 2015, we can mention a trade mission comprising about 50 people, including representatives of 30 different companies, which visited Johannesburg, Pretoria and Durban. In addition to this, 20 companies participated in 3 major exhibitions in Johannesburg, targeting Africa’s medical, food & beverage and mining & engineering industries during the course of the year.

In September, Awex also hosted a senior procurement manager of one of the top SA supermarket chains to meetings with 25 potential new suppliers in Wallonia.

The “South Africa focus market year” initiative is already showing results, says Muller. Not only have new business deals been struck, but two major South African economic development agencies are also soon to ratify partnerships with Awex. The first one with InvestSA an agency of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTi) and the other with SEDA (Small Enterprise Development Agency), an agency of the newly formed Department of Small Business Development.

Last but not least, Awex also intensified its campaign to attract South African direct investment in 2015. As a result, a new investment in Wallonia was officialised, in the sector of civil aviation, and several others are nearing conclusion, in particular in the IT and logistics sectors.