For the first time Johannesburg is hosting the South Africa-Italy Summit. This is the third Summit since its inception, and both previous Summit's were held in Cape Town. At the opening, Gauteng Premier David Makhura expressed his delight that Gauteng will remain the host over the next three years.
Done in partnership with European House – Ambrosseti, the 2016 South Africa-Italy Summit is a platform for government and business leaders to explore business opportunities, develop mutual partnerships and strengthen trade and investment between Italy, South Africa and the SADC region.
Makhura told the audience that most of the 60 000 South Africans of Italian descent live in Gauteng. "On a daily basis they are working to strengthen our deep historic bonds of friendship and solidarity. They promote our country and our province, and are building greater understanding between our countries. They are also involved in community development projects, including in our townships," he continued.
Gauteng's exports to Italy in 2015 amounted to R8.1 billion, which included products such as iron and steel, vegetables, machinery and mineral products. Imports from Italy to Gauteng amounted to R 19.1 billion, including products such as vehicles, aircraft and vessels, chemicals, plastics and rubber as well as machinery.
"We seek to reverse and correct this trade imbalance through the agreement we are signing today with Emilia Romagna," the Premier said on Tuesday.
He explained that between 2006 and 2014, the Gauteng economy saw more than nine Foreign Direct Investment projects, worth more than 157 million Euros, from Italy. These created 1 300 jobs.
Key South African companies mainly based in Gauteng, that have invested in Italy include Sasol, SAB Miller, Investec, Barloworld and Dimension Data.
"We are of the view that there is a huge potential to increase economic activities between Italy and South Africa through intensifying trade and investment between major regions and cities of our two countries," he continued. "For example, Italy possesses the know-how, products and personnel that can help strengthen our re-industrialisation initiatives. Gauteng can also benefit from the strength of Italy’s small and medium-sized firms that drive manufacturing in that country."
"The signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Gauteng Provincial Government and Emilia Romagna Regional Government is a major step in intensifying economic diplomacy and strengthening cultural relations. The economies of the two regions are highly compatible as industrial and knowledge hubs of our two countries," he said.