South African economic diplomacy: Engaging the private sector and parastatals


An effective economic-diplomacy policy requires cooperation between the government and the private sector, as has been acknowledged by the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) in its White Paper on foreign policy. However, state-business relations in South Africa are characterised by high levels of mistrust and ad hoc engagements. It is recommended therefore that efforts be made to encourage stronger organised-business structures that would enable government to identify key business stakeholders to engage with on peacebuilding initiatives and other more traditional areas of economic diplomacy. South African parastatals (state-owned enterprises) also have the potential to play a bridging role between the public and private sectors to help achieve government’s goals of economic diplomacy.

About the author

Catherine Grant Makokera is a research associate at the South African Institute of International Affairs and the Trade Law Centre. She served as a diplomat for New Zealand and has worked for organised business in southern Africa. She has conducted research on global economic governance, regional integration, trade and state-business relations in Africa.

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