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Govt hopes to ‘rescue’ ailing pulp industry soon
By Teetee Zwane - SWAZI OBSERVER-14-Sep-2009
GOVERNMENT says it is working tirelessly on rescuing the country’s ailing pulp industry.
One of the country’s biggest pulp producers, Sappi Usutu is currently faced with problems and even threats of closure following various production challenges, including the global economic meltdown which has affected a lot of industries and in essence, exports worldwide.
“There is a global recession so exports of sugar, paper and other products have been affected,” noted Prime Minister Dr Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini on Friday during the Federation of Swaziland Employers and Chamber of Commerce (FSE&CC) annual general meeting at the Royal Swazi Sun Convention Centre. He said Sappi’s situation was a direct result of the economic meltdown in European and Asian markets. “Government is trying to diversify its markets and we hope to have a positive position to take in our responses to the global economic crisis. “We have to work on this ‘like never before’. Business cannot be ‘as usual’. It has to be ‘business unusual’,” stated the PM. “And yet we are currently operating under a cloud of global economic uncertainty, making the challenge even greater.”
Dlamini noted that even though a number of countries like China, India, France and Germany were seeing economic recovery, others like the United States and United Kingdom were not expecting an emergence from recession in the near future. “Thus, with a number of our export markets still firmly in an economic downturn there should inevitably be a negative effect on our rate of growth. But that is only if we were to stand still and do nothing to boost growth, diversity and seek deeper and broader external market penetration,” he said.
Meanwhile, Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry Jabulile Mashwama said government was currently engaged with pulp industry stakeholders to try and understand their plight so as to find options and solutions to the problems.
“Obviously, we’re in an economic crisis and many industries have suffered. However, we’re beginning to see an improvement in the industry internationally, so we’re hoping it will get better,” she said. “We’re hoping to find solutions that will work because not only the prices of pulp have been affected, but a lot of other products as well.”
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