26 Jan US giants like Ford are ‘doubling down’ on SA, says Janet Yellen
US giants like Ford are ‘doubling down’ on South Africa, says Janet Yellen
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Thursday her country intended to build even “deeper economic integration” with SA and other African countries in the coming years, adding that the continent was the future of the global economy.
Yellen, who was speaking at a briefing after a visit to the Ford Motor Company South Africa’s plant in Silverton, Pretoria, said there were many countries in Africa, including SA, that the US viewed as “friends” – and that it also planned to work with them to further its security interests in ensuring there were resilient global supply chains.
“We have seen over the past three years how disruptions in one part of the world can shape the global economy. Covid-19 brought the world’s economic activity to a standstill. Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine has raised energy prices and exacerbated food insecurity. These shocks taught us about the importance of secure and resilient supply chains.”
Yellen said that as the US continued to vigorously promote global economic integration, it would be pursuing policies that were aimed at mitigating vulnerabilities in supply chains.
“We are addressing the over-concentration of production of critical goods in certain markets, particularly those that may not share our economic values, and to do so we are deepening economic integration with the many countries that we can count on. That includes our many trusted trading partners on the [African] continent.”
Yellen also said while the US was SA’s third-largest trading partner and a “major destination for South African investment, SA was the US’s largest trading partner in Africa.
‘Doubling down on commitments’
“In the coming years we intend to build on that strong foundation to promote even deeper economic integration here as well as with other African countries.”
She said that some of the biggest companies from the US were “doubling down” on their commitments in SA, adding that apart from Ford investing $1 billion (R17 billion) in SA, other companies such as Cisco, General Electric and Visa were also making investments here.
US Ambassador to SA, Reuben Brigety, said at the same briefing that if ever there was an example of the “strong enduring partnership” between the US and SA it was Ford, with its 100-year history in the country.
He also said that more than 600 American companies operated in SA currently, employing some 220 000 people and generating revenue that was roughly the equivalent of 10% of SA’s GDP.
Neale Hill, president of Ford in Africa, said the South African unit of the company had a proud history with its roots dating back to 1923 when it first launched in Gqeberha (then Port Elizabeth) to assemble the Model T car.
He said it now built and exported vehicles to more than 100 countries across the globe and was looking forward to “the exciting new path we have embarked on with the launch of a next-generation Ford Ranger pick-up”.
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