‘Govt has no intention of stopping foreign investment’

Lionel October says Trade & Industry want to ensure South Africa is open to foreign investment and trade.

FILE: The Bill is intended to replace bilateral investment treaties South Africa has with individual countries. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Trade and Industry director-general Lionel October says government has no intention of putting the brakes on foreign investment in the country.

October has addressed Parliament's Trade and Industry Portfolio Committee, which started deliberating on the controversial Promotion and Protection of Investment Bill.

It's intended to replace bilateral investment treaties South Africa has with individual countries, some of which have already lapsed.

The Bill has come under fire for fuelling uncertainty about the country as an investment destination.

October says the Promotion and Protection of Investment Bill aims to bring investment policy into line with international best practice.

"So I want to just put to bed any concern that we're reducing levels of protection, that there's any flight of investment."

He says they want to ensure South Africa's open to foreign investment and trade.

"South Africa is the favourite destination on the African continent by a very wide margin."

Anglo American South Africa, the Banking Association of South Africa and the Institute of Race Relations have added their voices to criticism of the bill, warning it could deter foreign investors from ploughing much needed money into South Africa's faltering economy.

The Department of Trade and Industry also says it wants to build world-class industries in South Africa and that foreign direct investment is central to achieving this.

Representatives of European and American businesses, as well as local bodies such as the Banking Association of South Africa, have warned the draft law could fuel investors' concerns about the security of their assets in South Africa.

October has defended the Bill.

"All we are doing in the context of this legislation is to meet international best practice with regards to foreign direct investment".

He added, "Our intention is to continue being the favourite destination for foreign direct investment."