Friedrich Naumann Foundation chairperson Count Otto Lambsdorff on Wednesday questioned the Proudly South Africa campaign to promote the sale of the country’s goods to the domestic market, arguing that it was contrary to the policy of opening the country up to international markets.
Speaking at a breakfast for German entrepreneurs in South Africa, the former German economics minister said for an exporting country like Germany or South Africa it did not make sense to drive a campaign that underscored protectionism. As an export economy it should look to advancing free trade and engaging in multilateral trade negotiations and not anything that served as protectionism.
“For an export-oriented country like South Africa the Proudly South African Campaign is a kind of backfiring protectionism.”
Lambsdorff argued that instead of “buying South Africa” or “buying British or buying American”, countries taking up the challenge of globalisation should be encouraging competition within their markets.
“Contrary to what many critics of globalisation believe, global competition will not go away if we just shout loudly enough,” said Lambsdorff.
“It will increase.”
He argued that whoever wanted to benefit from the opportunities and meet the challenges must face globalisation “head on and not try to shun it”.
Lambsdorff, chairman of the liberal Free Democrats, said there were “deeply worrying parallels between Germany and South Africa, or more precisely, between the governing Social Democratic Party and your African National Congress”.
Both were facing an unemployment crisis. In South Africa, crime, the impact of HIV, counterproductive labour laws and the concept of black empowerment based on rigid quotas and state intervention “must be firmly put on the agenda and not removed from it”.
“All these factors contribute to the root cause of most of our problems in both our countries, namely paltry economic growth.”
In South Africa what there was in the line of economic growth “does not even manage to accommodate the newcomers to the labour market”.
South Africa, like Germany, faced the intractable unemployment problem of low-skilled and unskilled workers. But both countries had a plethora of labour laws that priced these people “out of the market”.
Arguing that instead of affirmative action quotas there should be increased spending on required skills education, Lambsdorff said: “Like their German social democratic brethren, the ANC will allow for the market and individual choice and freedom to play as little of a role as possible and as late as possible.” – I-Net Bridge