US Consul General Teddy Taylor visited the Ford Struandale Engine Plant yesterday and confirmed his support for growth initiatives and creating broader trade relationships for the automotive industry in the Eastern Cape.
“Ford Motor Company, and the automotive industry in general, are a critical part of the economic and social development of South Africa,” Taylor said. “This applies not only to providing jobs, but also contributing a great deal to the economy, to the local community and the country in general.”
While there is great potential for South Africa, and Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (FMCSA) has shown its commitment to the country with the investment in the Ford Ranger manufacturing and export programme, Taylor highlighted the need to focus on creating a stable business environment and fulfilling the objectives of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). This programme aims to improve economic relations between the United States and countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“AGOA is extremely important for South Africa and for the US because it gives our trade relationship some structure. We would like to develop a broader trade relationship along the lines of what we have with some of our larger trading partners to develop the industry further,” Taylor commented.
Taylor and Economic Officer Inga Heemink were given a tour of the Struandale Engine Plant’s component machining and engine assembly lines, and were impressed at the high level of sophistication deployed at the facility.
The Ford team also received praise for their far-reaching social upliftment projects, which last year saw shipping containers transformed into houses for poor families in the Vastrap informal settlement in Port Elizabeth as part of Ford’s annual Global Week of Caring.
“Your CSR projects are to be commended, and it’s great to see American companies taking civil responsibilities as seriously as they do the bottom line,” Taylor commented.
For the all-South African management team at the helm of the Struandale Engine Plant, the visit was a great opportunity to showcase the huge strides that have been made to ensure the local operations are internationally competitive and an integral part of Ford’s global supply chain.
“We have entrenched the Struandale Engine Plant as global centre of excellence for the Ranger engine machining and assembly,” stated John Cameron, Plant Manager of Struandale Engine Plant. “Last year we began our first-ever exports to the United States with the commencement of engine assembly for the Ford Transit produced in Kansas City, and this was a key development in forging a closer relationship with the US.
“Consul General Taylor highlighted the local industry’s main challenges as labour unrest, energy supply and legislation, and these are indeed our biggest stumbling blocks towards growing our capacity and remaining globally competitive,” Cameron said. “We look forward to working closely with the Embassy to create a platform that will maximise growth and investment opportunities in the region.”