Western Cape Government International Relations Strategy
This strategy focuses on building and strengthening ties with Africa, the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) and the rest of the world. It showcases the province’s wealth of infrastructural and natural assets, as well as our excellent tertiary education, which mark the Western Cape as an investment centre of choice. This is also due to our sophisticated transport system, which provides ease of access to our markets via three major ports, three national highways and two international airports.
The WCG's aim is to build our knowledge base and to share our experience – through meaningful exchanges with emerging and developed regions the world over. The WCG IR Strategy therefore is a living document and is intended to evolve. The WCG recognises the need to engage more with businesses, municipalities and consulates based in the Western Cape and keep up with trends in the international environment. The aim is to ensure the Western Cape is an integral part of Africa.
This document aims to provide the overarching strategic direction for the Western Cape Government’s international relations. Key areas for intervention include:
- Promoting tourism.
- Trade and investment.
- Skills development through knowledge sharing with targeted countries and regions.
- Improving sustainable development through climate change mitigation and adaption while promoting the green economy.
Although foreign policy is largely determined by nation-states, there is scope for regional polities to build strategic partnerships with one another, with a view to stimulating economic growth. In an increasingly interconnected world, global events and trends have local consequences – socially, economically and politically. And with emerging economies now playing a bigger role in trade in the global arena, the Western Cape would do well to align itself with growing regions in other parts of Africa and the BRIC countries, while maintaining traditional relations with Europe and the Americas.
As the Western Cape Government has some control over trade relations and providing the right conditions for investment to businesses, this strategy focuses heavily on those aspects. Knowledge sharing is also an overarching theme running through the strategy on social and economic priorities.
The WCG’s IR Strategy then aims to provide the WCG with an overarching framework for key areas of intervention to strengthen its international relations. Implementation plans for departments will be unique to their mandate and priorities and would need to be developed with the strategic areas in mind. And ultimately, the key objective of this strategy is focused on increasing trade, tourism and investment, while promoting knowledge sharing through our social sectors to achieve our vision of globally positioning the Western Cape in the BRICS, Africa and the rest of the world.
The dramatic changes in the global trade patterns have affected South Africa, particularly in the economic sphere. Consequently, despite foreign policy still largely being the domain of nation-states, the importance of subnational actors such as provinces/ regions and local government has grown. This growth has largely been the result of the interconnectedness created through globalisation. Global issues no longer recognise national boundaries as a result of economic and social changes in the global system.
Provinces have had to adopt a new approach to provincial economic growth coupled with socio-economic imperatives. The Western Cape Government has recognised the need for a differentiated approach particularly when dealing with international partners as it relates to promoting the province’s comparative advantages – economic, social and cultural. Emphasis is placed on creating an enabling environment for economic growth at the regional level by using the Western Cape’s comparative advantages.
Until now, no integrated international relations strategy has been developed in the Western Cape. The WCG’s approach to international relations has reflected a silo approach. Provincial departments have international agreements or partnerships in isolation of one another. Many agreements are outdated and others dormant. Departments are thus unable to engage with a transversal strategic provincial approach and unable to adequately respond to global issues which affect the province.
An agreed strategic approach, articulated in an IR strategy, along with a clear and co-ordinated communication plan, will ensure optimal outcomes in international engagements and agreements. This strategy seeks to harness ownership of the development agenda for the WCG and its partners while aligning donor funding to provincial policies and priorities.
The strategy also aims to harmonise donor and South African government financial and policy processes, to ensure efficiency and effectiveness. The economic diplomacy approach advocated by the national Department of International Relations and Cooperation is central to this strategy.
The International Relations Strategy centres on three strategic goals and is aligned to Provincial Strategic Objectives 1, 7, 8 and 11:
Strategic Goal 1:
Create an enabling environment to facilitate trade, tourism and attract strategic investment to the Western Cape, in order to stimulate economic growth and jobs, thus reducing poverty.
Specific Strategic Objectives:
- Foster supportive business environment by reducing comparative costs and enhancing quality of service and production.
- Reduce red tape for businesses – encourage investment, expansion and employment creation.
- Encourage exchange and cooperation programmes in innovation and technology to promote scientific advancement, cutting-edge technology development, entrepreneurship and creativity, including through information and communications technology (ICT).
- Advocate the Western Cape as the green economy hub through the promotion of the province’s competitive advantage in renewable energy capacity, a strong financial services sector, excellent tertiary education and a varied manufacturing sector.
- Promote the excellence of our tertiary institutions in the rest of Africa in the BRIC countries and the rest of the world.
- Promote the strategic position of our transport infrastructure such as ports, highways and airports, as an important gateway into Africa for international partners.
- Leverage existing assets and capability of provincial government to attract Foreign Direct.
- Investment (FDI), promote tourism, trade and growth.
Strategic Goal 2:
Develop skills and best practices through knowledge sharing in all social sectors of the WCG by cooperative, multi-dimensional exchanges with emerging and developed regions.
Specific Strategic Objectives:
- Benchmark the Western Cape Province through collaboration with international agencies such as the OECD, World Bank etc. on key policy issues.
- Learn best practices on good governance by active consultation with like-minded regions and leaders in the field.
- Create and expand innovative cultural, health, sport, social education, safety, housing, technological and educational ties with targeted regions in the world.
- Promote the brand of the Western Cape as a learning region by exposing its potential and strengths through international exchanges and participation.
Strategic Goal 3:
Improve environmental resilience and adaptation to climate change and increase sustainability in the Western Cape for future generations through strategic international partnerships.
Specific Strategic Objectives:
- Advocate for green economy interventions which mitigate and help adapt to climate change, decrease environmental stress, eliminate resource constraints and consumption which leads to a flourishing planet.
- Promote green innovation and fast track the green economy agenda through strategic international cooperation for increased tourism, trade and investment.
The strategy recognises that the WCG cannot achieve these often interconnected and interdependent outcomes on its own, and that multiple strategic partnerships – in particular the strengthening of resources for Wesgro as the provincial agency for the promotion of tourism, trade and investment – are therefore imperative in order to achieve these outcomes.
Furthermore, the strength of the strategy will only be realised if the whole of government is involved and committed to achieving this transversal outcome.