Strengthening Bilateral Ties: UK-SA Collaborations for Economic Progress


A recent panel discussion hosted by the chamber between British and South African high-profile panellists highlighted the shared commitment to fostering economic growth, addressing social challenges, and enhancing bilateral trade relations. 


The debate, moderated by Dr Rutendo Hwindingwi underscored the importance of collaborative efforts in tackling pressing issues and maximising opportunities for mutual prosperity. Keynote speakers and panellists included Antony Phillipson, British High Commissioner to South Africa, Ed Kieswetter, Commissioner of the South African Revenue Service (SARS), and Mandisa Mathobela, Deputy Chairperson of The Institute for Stakeholder Relations Southern Africa, 


In his opening address, Antony Phillipson shared the UK’s dedication to advancing the Triple E’s – Education, Economic Empowerment, and Ending Violence against Women and Girls in South Africa. Through ongoing partnerships with local institutions and initiatives promoting female entrepreneurship, the UK aims to bolster South Africa’s socio-economic landscape. The UK also supports the GBVF Response Fund to offer crucial assistance to local communities impacted by GBVF. 



He highlighted the importance for countries like the UK and SA to collaborate, to ensure stability especially given the current global geo-political disorder. In exploring bilateral trade, the UK seeks to foster transparent dialogues with the business community, with a focus on job creation and addressing challenges such as energy shortages, logistical constraints, crime, and corruption.


Ed Kieswetter, Commissioner of SARS, acknowledged the longstanding trade relations between the two nations while urging the UK to increase its status as a trading partner even further. He highlighted the successful collaboration between SARS and HM Revenue & Customs, citing joint efforts to enhance tax capabilities, combat money laundering, streamline debt collection, and promote carbon efficiency and leadership development. These achievements underscore the tangible outcomes resulting from cross-border cooperation in regulatory frameworks and capacity building.


Kieswetter concluded by stressing the role of business leaders in driving the necessary changes for a more prosperous future. “Economics trumps politics and ideology. It requires chief executives, like us to do stuff and drive the change we need,” said Kieswetter. 



Mandisa Mathobela, Deputy Chairperson of The Institute for Stakeholder Relations Southern Africa, emphasised the shared potential for economic advancement by addressing critical societal issues such as youth unemployment, poverty, and inequality. She stressed the importance of active engagement from businesses in resolving these challenges, recognising their pivotal role in driving sustainable economic growth.


Collectively, these perspectives illustrate a concerted effort to leverage the strengths and resources of both nations to address common challenges and seize opportunities for shared prosperity. By fostering open dialogues, nurturing partnerships, and prioritizing collaborative initiatives, the UK and South Africa are poised to strengthen their bilateral ties and pave the way for a more inclusive and resilient economic future.



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