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Joburg signs trade deal with UK
28 August 2009

Joburg is the latest 2010 World Cup™ host city to sign a bilateral agreement with the United Kingdom

The city has joined an impressive group through signing up for the Host2Host programme initiated by the UK, hosts of the next Olympic Games.

JOHANNESBURG is the latest 2010 World Cup™ host city to sign a bilateral agreement with the United Kingdom that will ensure ongoing business collaboration long after the lights at the last venue are switched off, signalling the end of the world championship.

Executive director for economic development, Jason Ngobeni signs the trade agreement
Executive director for economic development, Jason Ngobeni signs the trade agreement

Already on board are Durban and Cape Town.

The Host2Host programme is an initiative of UK Trade and Investment, started over a year ago to forge busiess partnerships with other countries involved in hosting major sporting events.

It focuses on small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) setting up partnerships and getting a trade foothold into the host countries, among other things.

Britain will be hosting the 2012 Olympic Games in London. The initiative grew out of the realisation that cities needed to capitalise on establishing post-event economic legacies, said Sir Alan Collins, the United Kingdom's 2012 ambassador. Collins was also part of the bid committee that secured the games for London.

The Host2Host agreement was signed on 27 August at OR Tambo International Airport, with the executive director for economic development, Jason Ngobeni, standing in for Executive Mayor Amos Masondo.

Collins signed on behalf of the UK delegation.

SMMEs to benefit
A smiling Ngobeni said the agreement would not only help in furthering local business opportunities but would also assist with the City's SMME development programme, which was now in its fifth year.

The programme was making headway in "helping SMMEs to get their products export ready, with one of the programme's beneficiaries recently landing a $500-million [about R3,9-billion] contract", according to Ngobeni.

"We greatly like the idea. We will take the proposal forward to the City," he said, hinting that being a partner in the network would help Joburg in bidding for future major sporting events.

Sir Alan Collins, the United Kingdom's 2012 ambassador with Ngobeni
Sir Alan Collins, the United Kingdom's 2012 ambassador with Ngobeni

The signing of the agreement was the culmination of various collaborations between the UK Trade and Investment branch in Johannesburg and the economic development department of the City, confirmed Brian Gallagher, the British trade commissioner in Joburg.

This included a visit by Ngobeni and Gallagher to Manchester in March, and a number of British companies feeling out the South African business waters at Soccerex in 2008. More British companies would be exhibiting at the annual soccer business exhibition in November.

"The first tangible assistance will be what remaining needs the City has in terms of 2010. We want to be your natural partner," added Collins.

Trade partners
South Africa is the UK's most important trade partner in Africa, with two-way trade between the countries amounting to ₤8-billion (about R102-billion) a year. Collins said the Beijing Olympics accounted for a ₤2-billion trade benefit to British companies and "that's the sort of scale we are talking about".

Joburg now finds itself in the company of other host cities such as Vancouver, where the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games will take place; Singapore, which will host the inaugural 2010 Youth Olympics; and Sochi in Russia, which has won the bid for the 2014 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games. All three are Host2Host signatories.

The major global sporting events will be used as a catalyst for greater multilateral global collaboration and more export activity between countries. Canada and Russia were reaping the benefits of the partnership with "a good deal of [trade] activity already" going on.

"We are both nations that love sport. Let's take this forward," Collins concluded.

The Host2Host programme hopes to sign on New Zealand, which is hosting the 2011 Rugby World Cup, in the near future.

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