The Free State Growth and Development Strategy (FSGDS) clearly stipulates that efforts should be made from all strategic role players to help grow the economy of the province by six percent by 2014. In light of the envisaged significant growth of the Free State economy as sketched out by the (FSGDS), as a pivotal part of the Economic, Employment and Investment cluster (EEI), the Department of Tourism, Environmental and Economic Affairs has entered into bi-lateral international agreements with various countries around the world which are intended to help the province to accomplish this goal and to go beyond. These agreements resulted in the proliferation of the Asia Expo 2008 under the flagship of the newly found Free State Investment Promotion Agency (FIPA) and this expo served as a platform to showcase the Free State products and services with investors and exhibitors from targeted Asian and other countries.
This Asia Expo 2008 was aimed at facilitating networking and match making possibilities for both local businesses and their foreign counterparts. This platform also provided for strengthening of relationship between South Africa and other targeted countries within the spirit of south to south co-operation agreements signed by South Africa. In an effort to maximise benefits for the Free State entrepreneurs and citizens, the Free State Provincial Government has facilitated various trade and investment promotion outbound missions that reaped significant benefits for participating Free State businesses.
The provincial government also entered into various co-operation agreements with different provinces in other countries. The Asia Expo 2008 was used as a platform to strengthen those existing economic, trade and diplomatic relations. All those countries where the Free State has twinning agreements participated in the 2008 Asia Expo which was held at the Free State University in Bloemfontein from 17 to 19 October 2008.
As anticipated, the expo managed to draw the attention of targeted economic stakeholders, this could be attested by the attendance from the members of the public, the media, and various businesses in South Africa and abroad. Some South African countries are already in negotiations with companies from other parts of the world anticipated to culminate business deals between them.
Based on the success of the expo, the Department of Tourism, Environmental and Economic Affairs has resolved to approach the entire provincial government and recommend another expo in three years time which will be of the same multitude as this one.
As part of the objectives of the Expo which was to market Free State as a business destination, to increase competitiveness and innovation in key sectors of the Free State economy and facilitate economic empowerment opportunities, based on the preliminary analysis of the expo, the department believes the expo managed to realise them.
Participated companies and business formations were sourced out from the following targeted sectors:
* logistics and transport
* BPO/Call Centre and information and communication technology (ICT)
And participated delegates included the following:
* business associations
* individual businesses
* private sector
* foreign importers
* exporters with small,medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs)
* members of the public
Tel: 051 400 9542
Cell: 082 833 9595
Issued by: Department of Tourism, Environmental and Economic Affairs, Free State Provincial Government
24 October 2008
Source: Free State Provincial Government (http://www.dteea.fs.gov.za)