Address by President Nelson Mandela at a luncheon hosted by Japanese Economic Organisations

4 July 1995

Distinguished guests;
Ladies and gentlemen.

It is a great honour to be amongst such distinguished and influential leaders of the business community of a leading economy in the world. We deeply appreciate this opportunity of sharing ideas with you. For we are confident that such interaction will result in the strengthening of economic ties between our two countries.

South Africans greatly admire Japan's achievements. You lifted your country from the devastation of war to become the economic dynamo of Asia and the foremost economic success story of our era.

Although our economic links with Japan are already strong, we look forward to making them even much stronger. South African consumers are very familiar with Japanese products, many of which are made in South Africa. But very few major Japanese manufacturers have direct investments in our country.

There is a good reason for this. When Japan became one of the first countries in the world to impose investment sanctions on the Apartheid regime, South African companies obtained licenses to manufacture Japanese products. We believe that the time has come for these and other companies to take active part in the expansion of these ventures.

Today many major transnational corporations, from across the world, are establishing themselves in South Africa or expanding their operations. They come from the United States and Europe, to supply food products and information technology; to take part in the automobile sector and the chemicals industry. Asian countries such as Korea, Malaysia and Singapore, with little previous contact with South Africa, are moving in fact in manufacturing, tourism and even property development.

This interest, let me make clear, ladies and gentlemen, is not because we have a protected market or any expectation of long-term protection of investors from international competition. On the contrary, our commitment to steadily decrease import tariffs is widely known. What attracts this investment is the long-term growth prospects in South and Southern Africa, and more broadly, the potential of the continent of which we are a part.

Given the opportunity at last to freely express their wishes, the countries of our region have unambiguously opted for democracy and peace. South Africa and the region are quickly settling down to post-apartheid political stability and economic growth. We have twenty-five years of economic stagnation to address, and we have the natural and human resources to succeed.

The Southern African Development Community, comprising twelve countries, provides the framework for the shaping of regional integrated strategies.

Democracy, challenging market-based programmes of reconstruction and development, and a proven commitment to regional co-operation in economic and security matters, provide firm foundations for renewal in Southern Africa. South Africa is naturally at the centre of these efforts. And the results, we believe, will be magnificent for the whole of Africa.

Ladies and gentlemen;

The Japanese government has moved rapidly to support reconstruction and development in South Africa. It granted South Africa a generous package of financial assistance, totalling $2,3 billion, which will in particular have a marked impact on infrastructural development. In April this year South Africa was included in the Japanese Generalised System of Preferences.

For this assistance, and for the moral support and commitment from the Japanese government, we are grateful.

But governments can only go so far and not further. Their task is to create conditions for development. What is required is bold and innovative thinking from the private sector in both our countries.

It is appreciable, therefore, that the advent of democracy in South Africa has seen trade relations with Japan being strengthened. Japan is now our fourth biggest trading partner. This, however, is not nearly enough, given the potential, both in the magnitude of such trade and its character.

Bold and innovative decisions are required particularly with regard to investment. There have been several important ventures in the minerals and metals extraction and processing industries.

But Japanese business is famous for its achievements in the manufacturing sector, and this fame is well deserved. Through creativity and hard work, you have rewritten the book on productivity and innovation in manufacturing; on human resource development, work organisation, and quality control. It is in these areas that we wish to see your greater involvement in our economy.

As South Africa shifts its industry towards competitive manufacturing, the new investment we need will certainly have to come from domestic sources. Nevertheless foreign investors will be a critical catalyst. In other words, we call on Japanese business to make a major contribution to our industrial revitalisation, to the revitalisation of Southern Africa - while, at the same time, earning a good profit.

Be assured that when you do so, you will find a diversified economy; magnificent infrastructure, including power supplies and telecommunications; a sophisticated financial sector; committed partners in the South African business community - big and small; and access to markets in the region and beyond.

Ladies and gentlemen;

It is in the nature of most of the media everywhere, that you may not have heard about these our positive attributes; about our firm commitment to fiscal discipline; about the abolition of the dual currency system; and about the coming end to non-resident share-holders' tax. All these are efforts to create a climate which is favourable to the thriving of enterprise.

It is in the nature of the current pattern of news that you may have heard about crime in South Africa; but not about the successes of the government's Community Safety Plan and the ground-swell of co-operation between communities and the police to eradicate crime. Today, as our democracy consolidates itself and as mutual confidence is built between the people and law-enforcement agencies, crimes unreported in the past now see the light of day; the better for us to deal with them.

Such are the vagaries of the information market, that action by workers is given the prominence of a crisis. Yet, the deep roots that are holding to the ground in South Africa - the roots of co-operation between government, business and labour - become non-events.

For in South Africa, a new and thorough-going transformation is in the making. Our young democracy rests on a solid foundation of an irrevocable decision on the part of South Africans to work together to shape their future. Where differences arise, they do so within the framework of this national consensus.

Observers prophesying failure of our transition have been confounded time and again. They have failed to appreciate the tenacity with which South Africa prize their new-found freedom and peace, and with which they seek a better life for all. They have not understood the degree to which the most powerful sectors in our society are united in a joint endeavour to fashion a strategy for sustainable economic growth and development.

And so, dear friends, our message is a simple one: The time is now right for Japanese investors to exploit the massive investment prospects in South Africa. We believe that the very positive response to the Samurai Bond recently issued by South Africa indicates that Japanese business shares that view.

The establishment of a firm relationship with the world's most successful economy to the late Twentieth Century can only be in our mutual best interests. The time to act is now!

Thank you

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation