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News24.com | Ramaphosa impressed by economic gains of Côte d'Ivoire, makes the case for greater trade

President Cyril Ramaphosa with President Alassane Ouattara of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire.

President Cyril Ramaphosa with President Alassane Ouattara of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire.

While the Port of Durban may be the biggest port in Africa, the rapid growth of economic activity and the expansion of the Port of Abidjan impressed President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa and his ministers visited the area on Friday.

The president was visibly impressed by the economic growth seen in Abidjan in the last decade.

He is convinced there are greater economic opportunities for South Africa in the west African country. 

"Côte d'Ivoire is a strategic trading partner for South Africa, and there is tremendous potential to further increase trade in value-added products between our two countries," Ramaphosa told a business forum, which included representatives from both countries on Friday. 

The president, in turn, gained the praise of his counterpart, for bringing to Abidjan over 100 South African businesspeople, representing 50 companies, to discuss trade and to sign deals. 

"Given our respective capabilities, we have a lot to offer each other," Ramaphosa said. 

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Côte d’Ivoire Prime Minister Patrick Achi noted that his country had worked hard in the last decade to become an attractive investment destination.

Despite political instability, which ended in 2011, the country had doubled its GDP in the last decade. 

Achi said the goal for 2030 was to become a middle income country on the continent. 

For this to happen, they are marketing Côte d'Ivoire as an investment hub that offers trust and sustainability. 

SA's Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition Ebrahim Patel said trade between the two countries in 2020 amounted to $161 million. 

For Ramaphosa, access to the Ivorian market will pave the way for a single African market.

"From a host of small, fragmented markets, we want to build one large, single African market. In this way, our companies can achieve economies of scale, lower production costs and achieve global competitiveness," the president said.

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The president further noted the need to build capacity to process.

"We have to transform from being only exporters of raw materials, which makes us vulnerable to fluctuating global commodity prices. We need to build industrial and manufacturing capacity in each other's countries," he said. 

Ramaphosa added that there ought to be the removal of regulatory barriers, which have a negative impact on the movement of goods and services. 

On Thursday, South Africa and Côte d'Ivoire signed nine memoranda of agreement across different areas.

Both the Ivorian and South African delegations lauded the effort to intensify trade.