JOHANNESBURG, July 24 (Xinhua) -- South African industrial leaders, government officials and scholars have said China's special economic zone (SEZ) model could be adopted in their country to drive future economic growth.
"China's SEZ model is the most appropriate for South Africa to learn from," Andrew Ndoro, a lecturer at Africa University, told Xinhua in a recent interview.
South Africa can learn from China's experience while developing its SEZs because China has dealt with similar challenges that South Africa is currently facing in economic development, such as unemployment and poverty, Ndoro said.
"As happened in China, there is a complementary policy that the government must adopt in order to give export-processing zones the best chances of succeeding," he said.
Companies that invest in an SEZ in South Africa are eligible for a preferential 15-percent corporate tax rate, employment incentives and relief from value-added tax and customs and excise duties, said Andre de Rutter, chairperson of Manufacturing Circle, a manufacturing sector advocacy group in South Africa.
Currently, South Africa has designated eight SEZs in six provinces to promote economic growth and address unemployment and poverty.
The South African government also hopes that the SEZs will attract local and foreign investors who will bring in new technology and innovation to advance industrialization.
Tumelo Chipfupa, founding partner of Cova Advisory, an energy consultancy, said in an article for the Business Day newspaper that the SEZ roll-out was a key factor in China's phenomenal economic miracle, its move towards a more mixed-economy model, and its emergence as a giant among the emerging economies.
"These special zones in China have proved themselves," Chipfupa said.
In 2017, a delegation from South Africa's SEZ Advisory Board went to China to learn from the Chinese experience in the planning, development and management of SEZs.
At a conference on China-Africa industrial cooperation in Pretoria in June, Obed Bapela, deputy minister of cooperative governance and traditional affairs, said the SEZ program has become an important tool to foster inclusive growth through advancing the spatial transformation agenda of the government, which could lead to the creation of new and modern cities.
"SEZs could also assist to reduce the stubborn levels of unemployment, more especially (among the) youth. Given the scale of the country's crisis of unemployment, South Africa views SEZs as a platform for experimenting with reforms that might induce the emergence and growth of industries that employ large numbers of low-skilled workers," Bapela said.