Commenting on the current difficult domestic trading environment confronting the automotive industry in South Africa – the President of the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (NAAMSA), Mr Mike Whitfield – said that the SA new vehicle manufacturing and exporting industry continued to contribute positively to the South African economy.
Towards the end of 2015, NAAMSA had commissioned independent research to determine the industry’s social and economic contribution to South Africa. First round results had confirmed that the auto industry remained fundamentally important to South Africa’s socio-economic prosperity, growth and development. The research findings were currently in the process of being updated and would be available for public consumption during the fourth quarter of 2016.
The long term future of the automotive industry would depend on the goodwill and cooperation by all auto industry stakeholders – business, labour and government. In this regard, it was important to acknowledge the role of the Department and Ministry of Trade Industry which had provided vehicle manufacturers with long term policy certainty and which, in turn, had contributed to capital investment of over R28 billion by vehicle and component manufacturers over the past four years. The growth and development of the automotive industry over the past 20 years had contributed substantially to the South African economy. 115 000 high skills level employees were gainfully employed in component and vehicle production in South Africa whilst total industry employment, including the retail, distribution, servicing and repair sectors, had been determined at 496 000 in 2015. The industry’s linkages with other sectors had created hundreds of thousands additional employment opportunities. The broader automotive industry’s contribution to GDP was currently 7,5% and vehicle and component production accounted for 33,5% of SA manufacturing output. Exports of automotive products in 2015 had accounted for R151,5 billion representing 14,6% of total SA exports. The number of vehicles exported in 2015, to well over 100 countries internationally, was 333 802 units and this in turn had contributed to a positive, first ever trade balance of R5,6 Billion.
The remarkable performance of the industry in recent years required ongoing cooperation between the social partners and particularly a commitment to industrial relations stability throughout the automotive value chain so as to further enhance the industry’s social and economic contribution to South Africa, particularly for the benefit of the industry’s employees.