Address by President Nelson Mandela at a breakfast hosted by the President of Nihon Keizai Shinbun

5 July 1995

Mr Chairman;
Mr President and Members of the Executive Board;
Ladies and gentlemen.

To meet with the doyen of the Japanese business community or the media is a rare opportunity. However, to meet distinguished and influential figures from both the media and business is a double bonus, an opportunity that our delegation deeply appreciates. We warmly welcome the chance to engage with people who help shape the direction of Japan's economic relations with, and perceptions of, other countries.

Nikkei Shinbun has a distinguished record as a vehicle of information and analysis on which the business world sets much store. Last year's seminar on investment in South Africa which you organised, and which was attended by my colleague, the Minister of Trade and Industry, was much appreciated as a practical step to facilitate the development of economic relations between our countries

Today's occasion allows us to speak at first hand of developments in South Africa not only to yourselves as people of the media, but also to some of the foremost amongst your readers. We thank you for that opportunity.

Ladies and gentlemen;

It is barely a year since South Africa achieved democracy. The remarkable progress since then gives us confidence that this is a propitious moment to be inviting Japan and its business community to expand its economic relations with South Africa.

The political stability achieved under our Government of National Unity derives from a powerful impetus across all social sectors, to work together to rebuild our society. They are resolved to stand on the common ground between them, rather than be divided by lesser differences.

The process which is bringing our nation together was visibly demonstrated to the world in the way our whole country united behind our team in the Rugby World Cup. And we are certain that the Japanese team and other visitors enjoyed their stay in our country.

As South Africa's new order takes root, we are able to express our differences within an overriding national commitment to seek negotiated solutions, and a strong allegiance to our democratic framework. This holds as much of our political institutions as those which bring together government, business and labour.

The vision which draws our nation along this path is a better life for all South Africans. Reconstruction and development are firmly based on policies which will secure the conditions for sustainable growth and development. These include rigorous fiscal discipline and efficient use of our nation's resources.

As a founding member of the World Trade Organisation, we are steadily reducing our tariffs and embarking on the industrial restructuring which will accompany this.

To ensure the climate of safety and security which is the right of every citizen and so vital to economic growth, we combine a commitment to firm action against lawbreaking with community policing, an approach which has been so successful in Japan. The strong support of the nation for the government's actions to combat crime, gives good reason for the successes we have started to register.

Ladies and gentlemen;

This is the broad context within which we are pursuing the development of our relations with the rest of the world.

There is a sound basis to South Africa's relations with Japan, and Japan has amply demonstrated its commitment to be involved in our efforts. But there is also great scope for increased involvement, and this is the urgent challenge that faces the private sector in both our countries.

Japan has become one of our most important trading partners. The admission of South Africa to Japan's Generalised System of Preferences will enhance that relation. The Japanese Government's substantial financial assistance package will have a marked impact especially on infrastructural development. Japanese brand name products, manufactured under licence in South Africa, are well-established in our markets.

And yet, there is relatively little direct Japanese investment in South Africa.

Those among you have ventures in our part of the world will confirm that South African policy is friendly towards foreign investment. Foreign investors receive the same rights and privileges as local investors. There are no restrictions on foreign ownership of business or on the sectors of the economy in which they may invest. The investment climate is also being made more attractive through such changes as the relaxation of exchange controls and the planned abolition of non-residents tax.

But more important than the absence of impediments to foreign investment, is the powerful attraction of the long-term prospects of growth in South Africa and Southern Africa as a whole.

Political stability, democratic systems of government and peace have become the norm in our region.

Through the South African Development Community, we are working towards trade integration and a regional framework for investment. Regional infrastructure and the sharing of technologies are already being jointly addressed.

South Africa is ready to play its part as an equal partner within the this context, conscious of the benefits to itself of regional stability and growth.

These developments within our region and in our country offer significant opportunities for profitable productive investment.

Ladies and gentlemen;

This is what is drawing many major transnational corporations to establish themselves in South Africa or to expand existing activities there. The Japanese investment which has taken place so far, in minerals and metals extraction and processing, and the very positive response to our recent issue of Samurai bonds, should be just the first step in direct investment from Japan.

We have experienced a marked increase in domestic fixed investment as local business expresses its confidence in our future. That is where we expect most of our new investment to come from. But foreign investment is critical to economic growth, job creation, development of human resources and transfer of technology.

Partnerships with local interests, especially with business emerging from previously excluded sectors of our society, will enhance the effects of investment.

While South Africa is famous for its natural resources, their long-run value to our economy is rapidly diminishing. We are therefore shifting our economic resources from primary products towards the production of competitive manufactured goods and services.

Foreign investors, especially those from Japan, can impact decisively on this process. Our country stands to benefit immensely from Japan's experience in training of the labour force, stimulate innovation and increased productivity.

Ladies and gentlemen;

I have touched briefly on the benefits, to South Africa and to Japan, which will come with greater Japanese involvement. I would like, if I may, to leave you with a challenge to the business community of Japan.

We hold the press in high esteem, as a window on the world and a mirror in which we can see the judgements of others upon ourselves. Yet ultimately all of us must take responsibility for the reliance we place upon the press in the decisions we make.

We do know that in the distillation of events through which the media inform the world, a sense of crisis and anticipation of failure often loom larger than achievements and prognoses of success. Given South Africa's history, this is understandable.

But South Africans have consistently and frequently proved the predictions of failure to be wrong. This ought to give pause for thought. The causes of our success so far should not be over-ascribed to the supernatural, suggesting a rare occurrence unlikely to be repeated. They lie to a great measure in the determination and capacity of South Africans. They are enshrined in democratic institutions which are founded on a rare social compact.

The time is right for Japanese investors to put into action the investigations and the plans for investment. Complementing the generous support of your government, and giving it further substance, you will be welcomed as partners in the great enterprise on which South Africa has embarked.

Together we can contribute to making South Africa a better and more prosperous place for all its people. Together, we can build solid relations of mutual benefit.

Thank you.

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation