TRADE COMMISSIONER | SOUTH AFRICA
ne of my fi rst impressions of South Africa was formed before I arrived. In London, talking to potential business partners, several commented that while they understood the potential of its market, they were just not sure of the overall direction of travel of South Africa and, for the time being, had their hands full doing business in China, India and elsewhere. That immediately alerted me to the issue surrounding the country’s image, which I recognised had to be addressed. This is a country of signifi cant business potential for UK companies who are ready to take advantage of the opportunities on offer. Many things are in our favour here.
24 | springboard | www.ukti.gov.uk
Our man in... South O
Andy Henderson took up his post as trade commissioner at the UK Trade & Investment offi ce in Johannesburg just one year ago. Here, he reviews the period and looks ahead to the future
There is practically no time difference between Johannesburg and London. All of our main business contacts speak English. The legal system is based on the British system. The banks and fi nancial services sector are top rate. There are huge opportunities in the South African government’s £90bn infrastructure programme. We are currently following major opportunities in healthcare, rail and mine-water remediation. We anticipate massive growth related to South Africa’s expanding nuclear programme. British retailers do well here and some of the major UK supermarkets load their shelves with fruit, vegetables and wine from South Africa.
Some companies have questioned the security situation and governance. On the former, I would say that one has to take reasonable precautions to secure property and self. But we have not experienced any problems since we arrived here. On the question of governance and corruption, British companies know that they have to remain on the right side of the UK’s Bribery Act and conduct their businesses accordingly.
Sport is a major aspect of life in South Africa and the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games will be avidly followed here. The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall paid a visit in 2011, and a love of royalty means