Conducting Business worldwide: Financial Institutions assistance to local companies

NCOP Trade & Industry, Economic Development, Small Business, Tourism, Employment & Labour

31 August 2010
Chairperson: Mr D Gamedi, (ANC Kwazulu-Natal)
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Meeting Summary

The Deputy Minister and Department of Trade and Industry attended the meeting, at which various institutions briefed the Committee on how they granted assistance to local companies to conduct business on the African Continent and elsewhere in the world.
Trade and Investment South Africa (TISA), a division of the Department of Trade and Industry (dti), was mandated to develop the South African economy by increasing the quality and quantity of foreign and domestic investment, identifying investment opportunities, facilitating investment into and in South Africa, providing general information on investing in South Africa, and facilitating funding and government support. It assisted in the development of small, micro and medium enterprises (SMMEs) by providing export advisory services and export market information, as well as assisting the participation in trade exhibitions. It would give preference to countries with large markets, resource bases and regional pivots. TISA had shifted focus to new high growth markets, including Brazil, Argentina, India and China. It had a foreign office network in 46 countries. Its Export Credit Insurance Corporation underwrote bank loans, supplier credit and foreign investments. It worked with all spheres of government.

The National Empowerment Fund (NEF) aimed to support business ventures run by black people to enhance inclusive economic growth, to provide black people with direct and indirect opportunities to acquire share interests in State owned and private business enterprises, and to encourage and promote investments among black people. NEF would also be reviewing its support for cooperatives and small businesses. These objectives aimed to stimulate sector-targeted economic growth, job and wealth creation. An intention by an entrepreneur to export would count as a positive when NEF considered funding, and NEF actively helped its customers to find new export markets. The criteria for funding were outlined.

The Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) assisted with industrialisation, through leveraging private sector investment for economic growth, strengthening South Africa’s constructive role in regional economic development, and transferring experience and expertise to African Development Finance Institutions (DFIs.) It provided and arranged funding, acted as financial advisor and shared project risks. The requirements for funding were set out, and it would also require projects to demonstrate their profitability and sustainability. IDC also assisted other DFIs by providing lines of credit for on-lending. It was embarking on a more integrated approach to regional development.

The National African Federated Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NAFCOC) indicated that it had always championed black business chains and the African Bank. It now had a growing presence in all of the provinces, and had an active Women’s Chamber. It had entered agreements with a number of entities around the world, and was a member of the International Council on Small Business. It was concerned that only 2% of the South African population were entrepreneurs, of whom less than half were black, which was far below other countries. Challenges included the under-representation of small enterprises in international trade and joint partnerships. Many entrepreneurs were under-resourced and under-capitalised, and thus were unable to take advantages of opportunities, despite South Africa’s rich resources. Financial institutions were reluctant to finance them, and NEF, IDC and banks were not playing their roles properly, and should re-examine their priorities, concentrating on financing inside the country. Capital and equity markets were not accessible, and interest rates were far too high. NAFCOC was attempting to reach all provinces and establish equity funding. NAFCOC called on DFIs to change the way they did business, make themselves more accessible, cease copying entrepreneurs’ ideas and not turn a blind eye to fronting. It also suggested that government entities allegedly pursuing development opportunities should be required to produce a list of who they were to contact, and that planning around international trade needed to be better aligned.

First National Bank, Standard Bank, ABSA Bank and Nedbank all gave brief presentations outlining what they were doing to assist South African companies doing business internationally.

The Deputy Minister made a strong statement that despite all that was being done, the effects were not being felt on the ground. Unemployment figures were growing, the inequality gap was widening, and the interventions were not addressing the problems. Although the policies may be good, the implementation was not, and it was necessary not to rely on figures, but to actually assess the impact that initiatives were having on the lives of South Africans. Funding of small businesses was a complex issue but everyone must work together to see how the problems could really be addressed.

Some Members expressed agreement with the Minister, but cautioned that it was also necessary to look at policies to see whether the strategic vision really could achieve greater development, and said there was a need to address poverty by adding value where it most mattered. A Member criticised development in the eastern part of the country at the expense of the western part. Two Members questioned whether black economic empowerment was assisting development, believing that collective instruments to negotiate on behalf of all businesses were needed and that all entrepreneurs should be equally assisted. Members asked what provincial coverage the NEF had, stressed that all agencies needed to identify who they must serve and said that the need to assist those at grassroots level was not being addressed. They queried the selection criteria, and asked whether sufficient due diligence was being done. A Member asked the DFIs and the Department to take cognisance of NAFCOC’s statements and support NAFCOC members. Several Members did not feel that the institutions should be expanding worldwide but should rather concentrate on granting finance to local entrepreneurs, questioned whether applicants were assisted to fill out the necessary documents, asked what criteria applied to assistance outside South Africa and urged that the financial obstacles must be addressed. The banks were asked to expand on their activities.   

Meeting report

Conducting business in Africa and beyond: Briefings by financial institutions on the assistance given to local businesses.
The Committee welcomed Ms Maria Ntuli, Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, and various financial institutions to the meeting.

Trade and Investment South Africa (TISA) briefing
Mr Sipho Sigothle, Acting Director, Trade and Investment South Africa, explained that Trade and Investment South Africa (TISA) was a division of the Department of Trade and Industry (dti). Its mandate was to develop the South African economy by focusing on increasing the quality and quantity of foreign and domestic investment, by identifying investment opportunities, facilitating investment into and in South Africa, providing general information on investing in South Africa and the domestic business environment, as well as facilitating funding and government support.

Some of the services rendered relating to export development and promotion included gathering market intelligence, identifying markets with potential and export opportunities, and then matching potential exporters with foreign buyers.

TISA also assisted in the development of small, micro and medium enterprises (SMMEs) by providing export advisory services and export market information.

Among the top ten export destinations in 2009 were China (R42,5 billion exports) the United States of America (R33,6 billion exports) followed by Japan (R28,3 billion exports) and Germany (R25,7 billion exports).  

Mr Sigothle explained that TISA also to a large extent provided export marketing and investment assistance for individual exhibitions, national pavilions, finance for export skills development and financial assistance for inward and outward missions.

Preference was given to countries with large markets, resource bases and regional pivots, as well as those with the potential to absorb South African manufactured exports. Countries who played a significant role in the global economy and those whose development strategy fitted with South Africa’s strategy were also considered.

Mr Sigothle stated that TISA was shifting its focus to new high growth markets such as Brazil, Argentina, India and China. He said that nearly 40% of SA exports were destined for the European Union (EU), Eastern Europe and Russia. The gross domestic product (GDP) had increased substantially in some African countries over the last years.

Dti had a foreign office network of 46 countries, but where TISA did not have foreign economic representatives, it worked closely with the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (DIRCO).

Mr Sigothle added that TISA’s Export Credit Insurance Corporation underwrote bank loans, supplier credit and foreign investments, to enable South African contractors to win capital goods and services contracts in other countries. It also provided cover for losses arising from political and commercial risk events, as well as insolvency and protracted default. TISA worked closely with national and provincial government departments and municipalities to meet their objectives.

National Empowerment Fund (NEF) briefing
Ms Philisiwe Buthelezi, Chief Executive Officer, National Empowerment Fund, noted that the key objectives of the National Empowerment Fund (NEF) were to support business ventures run by black people, which would directly contribute to the outcome of inclusive economic growth, to provide black people with direct and indirect opportunities to acquire share interests in State owned and private business enterprises, and to encourage and promote investments among black people, thereby raising South Africa’s competitiveness through investments made by the NEF’s Strategic Projects Fund. She said that NEF would critically review its support for cooperatives and small businesses in the “survivalist sectors” of the economy.

By following these objectives, NEF aimed to stimulate sector-targeted economic growth, job and wealth creation as a direct product of investment and funding activities. NEF would apply its status as being the only gazetted BEE facilitator to develop and transform key sectors.

Ms Buthelezi added that there was great growth potential for exporters. An intention to export would be a key motivator to fund black-empowered companies who applied for finance from NEF. Once finance had been given, the NEF would actively seek ways and means of assisting the customers to find new export markets. This could include facilitating or sponsoring their participation on state and trade visits or shows in countries where potential new foreign markets might exist, and sponsoring their participation on trade shows.

Ms Buthelezi outlined the standard NEF investment criteria for funding. Black applicants would have to be actively involved in the operation of the business. There must be a minimum black ownership percentage. The applicant must show clear industry experience, and the business model had to be financially sustainable.

She outlined that NEF had funded were Amajuba Berries (Pty) Ltd, DMS Powders (Pty) Ltd and Safepak (Pty) Ltd, which were currently already involved in export activities or positioning themselves to do so.

Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) Briefing
Mr Lumkile Mondi, Chief Economist, Industrial Development Corporation, indicated that the primary goal of the Corporation (IDC) in the African Continent was to assist with industrialisation. This could be achieved through leveraging private sector investment for economic growth, strengthening South Africa’s constructive role in regional economic development, and transferring experience and expertise to African Development Finance Institutions (DFIs.)

He noted that the IDC had played a role in project development and finance, by providing and arranging funding, acting as financial advisor, often in partnership with other financial institutions, and sharing project risks with sponsors and financial partners.

Mr Mondi said that the IDC had certain requirements that must be fulfilled before IDC could participate in project funding in the South African Customs Union (SACU). It required a project size of R5 million for SADC projects, a project size of US$3 million internationally, or US$10 million for the rest of Africa. The minimum requirement for export finance was the US dollar equivalent of R10 million. Among other criteria, projects also needed to demonstrate profitability and sustainability.

The IDC assisted other DFIs in Africa by providing lines of credit for on-lending to smaller enterprises, capacity building and training. It would embark on a more integrated approach to regional development. Various models for South-South cooperation had been proposed or were being pursued, focusing mostly on Brazil, India and China (BRIC countries).

National African Federated Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NAFCOC) submission
Mr Mashudu Ramano, Executive Chairperson, National African Federated Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NAFCOC), did not like the term “Black Economic Empowerment”, but preferred to see someone like himself as a “black entrepreneur”. There had been black entrepreneurs back in the apartheid days, and NAFCOC had championed black business chains and the African Bank. NAFCOC now had a growing presence in all of the provinces. It had an active Women’s Chamber. NAFCOC had a strong balance sheet and could look after its own affairs without seeking help. It had agreements with a number of entities around the world, and had become a member of the International Council on Small Business. NAFCOC had established relationships in Gabon, Kenya, and the Netherlands, among other countries. There was growing interest in South Africa also about NAFCOC, and the number of hits on the website recently reached 240 000.

Mr Ramano said that South Africa’s entrepreneurial population was less than 2%, of whom less than 1% were black entrepreneurs. This number had not changed since 1986. Other countries were showing entrepreneurial populations of between 5% to 10% of the population.

Mr Ramano said that there were several challenges. Similar to the rest of the world, Small Micro and Medium Enterprises (SMMEs) were under-represented in international trade and joint partnerships. Members were under-capitalised and under resourced, to take advantage of opportunities that were presented by China. South Africa and Zimbabwe had 90% of the chrome resources of the world. Both countries also had 95% of the world platinum resources. This meant that it was bigger than USA, with a population of 254 million. The question was how to harness this resource power.

Mr Ramano noted that financial institutions were reluctant to finance the NAFCOC members. He said that NEF, IDC and the banks were not playing the role that they should. They seemed not to be happy to support and facilitate South African business people to do business overseas, although they would facilitate business in other countries. Their priorities must be re-examined. Generally, NAFCOC members had poor access to banking services, capital markets were not accessible, and equity finance, which would be appropriate for this sector, was also not accessible. It was difficult to trade in commodities for this reason.

There were a number of agreements that had been entered into and the provincial governments had responded positively to NAFCOC’s call upon various provinces to try and establish some equity funding. NAFCOC still had to visit the Northern Cape.

Mr Ramano mentioned that a group of twenty entities had set up an SMME finance challenge, to find the best models worldwide for public/private sector partnerships (PPPs). All needed to discuss ways to finance the SMME sector.

Mr Lawrence Mavundla, President, NAFCOC, said he would like to indicate how Members of Parliament could assist in making sure that development finance institutions could change the way in which matters were dealt with. The model of DFIs must change, so that they were not profit-driven, but were development oriented. Those who were appointed to deal with SMEs at institutions were often completely unreachable. Instead, people were needed who had a passion for development. The turnaround times between loan applications and granting of loans was far too long. The finance criteria must also be examined. He further claimed that sometimes those who worked in finance institutions would take and copy ideas presented by the entrepreneurs seeking finance. Interest rates were far too high, particularly considering that this was a developing country. Fronting was a serious sickness, but it was often not stopped by the financing institutions.  

Mr Mavundla added that new legislation impacted on developing countries. He wondered if Parliament had followed up on new legislation to check that there was not exploitation by banks of consumers, or had done any assessments on the impact of regulations on the ability to access finance.

Mr Mavundla enquired whether international trade with China undertaken by the spheres of government had been scheduled. He suggested that anyone intending to investigate opportunities must list exactly who they were intending to see. He said that there was insufficient planning around international trade.

First National Bank (FNB) briefing
Mr Willie Coetzee, Regional Head, First National Bank, gave a brief overview of the role that First National Bank (FNB) was playing in assisting South African companies to excel in the international arena.

ABSA Bank briefing
Mr John Gachora, Head of Africa, ABSA, imparted what this bank was doing to assist South African companies who were doing business in Africa and beyond.

Standard Bank briefing
Ms Linda Manzini, Managing Director, Diners Club International, and Ms Sone Brigman, Representative of Standard Bank Investments, outlined what Standard Bank was doing to assist business in South Africa.

Nedbank briefing
Mr Thulani Vicakazi, Head of Africa Strategy, Nedbank, outlined what Nedbank was doing to assist South African companies to do business abroad.

Ms Maria Ntuli, Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, noted that despite all that had been said and done, unemployment in South Africa still remained a major issue. Unemployment figures were growing, the inequality gap was widening, and the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) was failing to address these problems. While the agencies gave good presentations, outlining theoretically sound policies and procedures, the devil was in the implementation. She stressed that this should not amount to number-counting, and saying that so many jobs had been created, but rather that the impact and the difference made to the lives of South Africans must be assessed. She realised that what she was saying may not be well received by some people. However, she stressed that many of the institutions were not visible to people on the ground. They had no footprint in the rural areas, and were not present where they were most needed. This was not easy to achieve, but the time had come to stop complaining about difficulties and start actively assisting. In particular, the presentation by the NEF had said many good things, but she wondered if there was a real appreciation of the fact that South Africans were poor and struggling, and whether NEF was able to assist with this. She conceded that the funding of small businesses was a thorny issue. However, all must work together and see how best to address the issues.

Mr K Sinclair, (COPE Northern Cape) appreciated the Deputy Minister’s approach, commenting that she was quite correct in being realistic and critical. However, he cautioned that the baby should not be thrown out with the bathwater. Perhaps the reason why unemployment was not being addressed properly was linked to the wrong government. He thought that there was a lack of strategic vision from the policy makers on a greater developmental pattern. In order to address the issue of poverty, value must be added where it most mattered. He believed that the developmental pattern in South Africa was skewed. The Eastern part was being developed, but the Western part was being neglected. The Western part had mineral resources, and it was necessary to tap into these.  South Africa’s economic base depended on agriculture and mining, and rivers needed to be dammed. It was urgent to decide what was needed, and eliminate the bureaucratic restrictions.  

Mr Sinclair felt that the “fallacy” of BEE should be brought to a halt. He claimed that BEE was not working in South Africa, and there was a need to move away from this to create sustainable business partnerships. A collective instrument for negotiating on behalf of business was needed, which must involve the commercial banks and strategic partners to be part of the process.

Mr A Nyambi, (ANC Mpumalanga) wanted to know whether the NEF was overseeing all provinces.

Ms Buthelezi replied that NEF had a staff count of only 40, but was expected to cover all the provinces. NEF was currently working on this, but strongly believed that the national and provincial governments had a role to play. Anyone based in Mpumalanga should be in a better position to identify investment opportunities. NEF had actually only really been successful in two provinces.

Mr J Gunda, (ID Northern Cape) asked IDC to elaborate on the statement about “reasonable financial contributions that are expected from owners” in their presentation.

Mr Gunda said that all the agencies must appreciate where the country had been, and who they must really serve. He did not believe that they were in a position to congratulate themselves. Mr Gunda pointed out that more than half of all South Africans were still struggling. He asked why IDC and NEF were not really making a difference at grassroot levels. He asked NEF to elaborate on its statement, under the key objectives, that it was to “provide black people with direct and indirect opportunities to acquire share interests in State owned and private business enterprises”.

Ms Buthelezi responded these objectives were developed by Parliamentarians themselves, and NEF simply had to take the objectives, and, in compliance with the NEF Act and mandate, translate the objectives into funding opportunities.

Mr Gunda expressed his disappointment with the realities. The Northern Cape was one of the most impoverished provinces. There was iron ore available there, and mining was happening, yet there was still no iron refinery in that province, and instead the ore was being moved to Saldanha.
Mr Gunda asked if NEF was assisting people in writing business plans.

Mr Andrew Wright, Chief Financial Officer , NEF, replied that provincial representation was an ongoing challenge. NEF would target the provincial investment activity that matched the GDP activity of the provinces that were relevant to national GDP. If Northern Cape, for instance, contributed 2.6% to GDP, then NEF would try to mirror that figure in allocating its investment portfolio. So far the NEF had been unsuccessful in the Northern Cape.
Mr B Mnguni (ANC Free State) noted that the NEF was apparently targeting black companies, but enquired what selection criteria were being used when financing them.

Ms Buthelezi said that this had been set out in the presentation and all black companies would have to comply with those criteria. There were separate selection criteria applied to enhance women’s empowerment.

Mr F Adams (ANC, Western Cape) asked the NEF about the investment criteria quoted as “black ownership had to be 25.1 or 50.1%”. He noted that there had recently been extensive media reports on fronting. He believed that these criteria may lead to someone who was not actively involved in the business being put up as a “front” to get funding. He asked how extensive the NEF oversight was and how it checked on applicants.

Mr Wright responded that the due diligence process was quite extensive. Applicants had to comply with the minimum BEE criteria, and NEF would reject funding or re-funding if they did not comply.

Mr Mnguni asked TISA how much was spent on funding smaller companies and what its success rate was.

Mr Adams noted that TISA had mentioned a few countries in its network. However, he pointed out that he had recently been in Russia, when Russia stopped buying wine from Georgia. Had TISA or the Department of Trade and Industry been represented, they could have immediately given a pitch and secured Russian purchase of South African wine.

Mrs E Van Lingen, (DA Eastern Cape) expressed concern whether Black Economic Empowerment was the correct direction for South Africa to follow for economic development. In the Western Cape, when pre-conditions for black empowerment were eliminated from tenders, this had actually resulted in raising opportunities for previously disadvantaged people by 70%. She was not saying that there was not a need to empower black people, but she felt that all people in South Africa needed to be empowered in order to empower the economy. BEE was not delivering what was needed.

Mr Mnguni responded to Mrs Van Lingen that black economic empowerment was needed to develop those people who were previously disadvantaged, and to redress the balance.

Mrs Van Lingen pointed out that DFIs and the Department should take cognisance of the points made by NAFCOC, and should make every effort to support NAFCOC members, whose ideas would create opportunities for all people.

Mr Ramano (NAFCOC) answered that he wanted to define what he thought that BEE should mean. He wanted to clarify that the concept of BEE was supported, but not necessarily the way in which it was being applied. He would see BEE as being support for a black entrepreneur, getting black people into the labour market as professionals, giving black people access to land, and sorting out infrastructure for black elders.

Mr Mnguni asked NAFCOC whether it had ever taken the initiative to venture out of South Africa, and also asked what support it received from dti.

A representative of NAFCOC answered that it was considering venturing outside, but a few issues would first need to be taken into account.

Mr Mnguni noted that NAFCOC had voiced concern that its members were unable to speak to the Chief Executive Officers of the financial institutions. He asked what priority was given to accessibility. He also asked what initiatives NAFCOC had taken to try to ensure that the smallest entrepreneurs were able to make use of all the opportunities.

Mr Nyambi asked Mr Mavundla to elaborate on his statement that some CEOs were “like demigods”. That was a broad generalisation and he did not find this term acceptable. Some were always available to assist.

Mr Mavundla wanted to give an illustrative example of the difficulties. He said that the town Voolsrus in Mpumalanga was situated in one of the most economically distressed areas. NAFCOC had identified a project that could create economic activity in that area. However, the MEC had reached the town first, and the DFIs were impossible to contact. NAFCOC had managed to meet the State President twice, as well as the Deputy President, but was unable ever to meet with the DFIs. If it was hard for NAFCOC and its Chairperson to contact a DFI, then it must be even harder for a member of NAFCOC to do so. This was why he had said that some CEOs of some financial institutions were akin to demigods.

He added that no matter how extensive the applications were, a person would or would not repay a loan. In fact, those who were better at filling in the forms were more likely not to repay. Poor people tended to be committed to trying to repay, even if this was done late, whereas those who were more sophisticated had more schemes up their sleeve to avoid repayment. African Bank was not a large bank, but it was the largest lender for micro-lending, and the most profitable, because it was lending to the poor. The problem was that Members of Parliament wanted to see these institutions making a profit.

Mr Nyambi noted that NEF were assisting people from outside, and had referred to Swaziland. He wanted to know how applications outside of South Africa were dealt with, and whether the same rules applied.

Ms S Chen (DA Gauteng) said that although clearly the Department was willing to assist, people at grassroots levels were still not actually being helped. She asked what the main obstacles were for small businesses when they were seeking financial assistance. Many entrepreneurs had excellent ideas, but did not have the knowledge on how to pursue them, and needed guidance.

Mr Gunda suggested that NAFCOC had given Members and financial institutions a serious challenge, and that it should be taken seriously. If black entrepreneurs still accounted for less than 2%, then government needed to make a difference. It was unacceptable that the very people who had suffered in the past under apartheid laws were still suffering now under the new dispensation.

Ms M Dikgale (ANC Limpopo) said that she was happy to hear that banks had a good relationship with traditional leaders. She challenged Standard Bank to state how it was committed to helping the orphans, the youth or the unemployed. She said that it claimed to connect Africa to the world, and the world to Africa, but was leaving the poor behind. She asked all banks how they were giving back to the community.
Mr Nyambi pointed out that a main priority of government was rural development. He asked how NAFCOC, for instance, was being empowered through Standard Bank. He also asked Standard Bank to explain its statement that South African policy-making was world-class.

Mr Mnguni asked all the banks how many black companies they were supporting.

Mr Adams said that the banks had spoken of banking outside of South Africa, but wanted to know why they did not want to invest in SMEs in South Africa, but were referring entrepreneurs back to the DFIs. He said that those who were credit-clear were battling to get loans. He thought that the South African Reserve Bank Act needed to be amended, and that the banks must be forced to help the ordinary man in the street. Standard Bank, for instance, was investing in small companies in China, for which they did not even hold a guarantee. Nedbank was selling out to HSBC.

The Chairperson questioned whether banks were prepared to sit down and talk with government about how they could help Africa, and to state what their plans were.

Mr Coetzee, FNB, said that all banks were categorized into segments, and these separately dealt with large corporate, medium and smaller businesses, and emerging market businesses. Banks were geared up to assist SMMEs, and he agreed that this should be a focus area, although no distinction should be made between black-owned or white-owned enterprises. Clients did have opportunities to export, and the banks did have instruments in place to assist the exporters, thus helping people to move into the rest of Africa. Banks did offer financial instruments to assist them.

Mr Chamboha, representative of ABSA Bank, agreed that all banks were equally keen to do business on the African Continent, but had to ensure that they were meeting expectations of shareholders, the requirements of the government, and their own agenda. One of the challenges was that that those other countries also had their own expectations and requirements, as did the local community and banks had social responsibility. ABSA worked around this by trying to meet their expectations and their goals, and looking carefully at the sectors that it would target. Challenges and risks that were faced on the Continent often stemmed from a particular sector. Possible solutions could include bilateral agreements between some African countries, which could facilitate trade.

Mr Gachora, ABSA Bank, added that the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) was creating a public partnership of investment, to create a pool of money, and was approaching the private banks to invest as partners in Africa. This could draw on other funds, including the Pan-African Investment Government Fund, which also included DBSA investment. He noted the continuous reference to challenges. However, instead of asking what the banks were doing wrong, he thought it would be useful to concentrate on what they were doing right. This included making South Africa the gateway to the rest of Africa.

Mr Adams contested this point. He thought that if ABSA was neglecting its own South African responsibilities, it could not form the gateway to the rest of Africa.

Mr Nyambi agreed with this remark.

Mr Gachora responded that the key issue being discussed was inter-Africa business, not domestic issues.

Ms Brigman, Standard Bank, said that Standard Bank was represented in 16 countries. It provided basic banking services there, but maintained no credit cards or loans in any of those countries. She said that Standard Bank did not have any lending presence in China, but that this was handled through the ICBC (Chinese Bank’s) balance sheet. If lending was done, it was usually confined to South Africa.

Mr Adams contested this statement, insisting that Standard Bank was indeed funding in China, and that he had a report from China to prove this, which he would circulate to Members.

Ms Van Lingen referred to NAFCOC’s remarks about the necessity for delegates travelling overseas to produce lists of appointments. She claimed that some municipalities travelling overseas were simply going on a joyride. Even though the Presidential trip to China was an important one, she wondered what this would eventually end up costing.

Mrs Van Lingen asked what agreements had been signed with ICBC for rail development and the power stations, and what the State’s role was.

These questions were not answered.

The meeting was adjourned.

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