PRETORIA– South African Trade and Industry Minister Ron Davies says he is optimistic that the new year will bring good fortune as the country starts to get on top of some of the challenges it faces, including issues of governance at State-owned companies.

Last year, it is no secret, was an extremely difficult and challenging year for the South African economy. There are reasons to be optimistic that this year 2018 will be a year that will allow us to perform better than we did last year, she said when addressing the 5th South African Premier Business Awards (SAPBA) hosted by the Depart of Trade and Industry (dti) here Tuesday night.

The world economy is predicted to achieve its highest level of growth at 3.6 per cent this year since the recession of 2007/2008, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

I think we must not over-rate the impact of this because as the IMF says, this is a cyclical bounce. The circumstances in the world economy look a little bit better,” said Davies.

“Secondly, we have a much more positive mood among both the domestic and foreign business towards this country. That mood I think is built on the reality of a smooth and predictable transition in the ruling party’s congress at the end of 2017.”

He was referring to the election of a new National Executive Committee (NEC) of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) with Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa elected as the ANC President, succeeding President Jacob Zuma as head of the party. However, President Zuma’s term as South African President runs until the next general election in 2019.

However, Davies noted that while the country was focused on turning a corner, the local economy was still facing structural challenges. While we have reason to be hopeful that this year will be better than last and that these factors will be positive for our economy they don’t mean automatically that our substantial challenges of bringing about structural transformation in our economy will be solved,” he said.

Rather what they do is that they create better circumstances for us to continue to confront the challenges that we’ve got of getting our economy onto a new qualitative different and higher growth path which is both more value added in its nature and much more industrialised.

The issue of inclusivity in the economy is one that needs to still be addressed. This is so that jobs are created and opportunities for people who have been excluded from the positions of ownership, leadership and management of the economy are brought on board, he added.

Transformation remains fundamental. Over the year we will be seeking to accelerate our efforts under better conditions to industrial and re-industrialise our economy, to move further up the value chain.