United States industry offers South Africa and other developing countries opportunities for defence and aerospace partnerships.
This is according to US Department of Commerce Senior Commercial Specialist Johann van Rensburg. Speaking to defenceWeb he said US businesses had a wealth of knowledge and material to sell to or partner with South African companies.
“US industry offers both full systems and componentry”. (That is, parts making up a system or device). US industry, he said, sells: “sub-systems to local suppliers who resell full systems into the region. We know about proven aviation stalwarts, like Lockheed Martin and Boeing, but there are many suppliers of componentry, from small added value items such as accelerometers, gyro meters or sensors used in anything from UAVs to missiles”.
He made an important point about doing business with US businesses: “The US industry base is so wide and so deep you will find whatever you need from the US. That’s why companies like Paramount re-export systems with US componentry to the region”.
“Even if you buy an Airbus aircraft, it’s got about 40 %US componentry. The Europeans, largely Airbus, tried to buy locally as much as possible and still have to buy 40 %US components (other European manufacturers may be higher), showing how strong the US industry is in aviation.”
Van Rensburg said US suppliers teamed with South African companies on the manufacturing side and others involved in servicing that can and do partner with South African firms. US companies sometimes enter the market by selling to “an integrator, such as Paramount, that take components from all over the world and build it into an armoured vehicle or onto a re-seller like ECM Technologies.”
He added: “Although our business development services are well suited for small US companies, we are equipped to assist large US companies. The Boeings and Lockheed Martins have their own representatives here. In fact, Boeing has an office in South Africa. Small companies with resource challenges are best suited to benefit from our range of services. We offer cost effective solutions and advocacy for a fair process and consideration when competing for procurement by the host government or its parastatals.”
His section of the US Commerce Department advises US companies on how to find partners in South Africa or elsewhere in Africa. The department also facilitates US companies in African countries getting a fair opportunity to compete during tender processes.
Van Rensburg described the South African defence market as a “mature one”, saying: “everybody any importance is already in this market. You’ve got the Americans, Europeans, even the Russians here, the Chinese are coming in.”
With big ticket projects like Project Vistula (replacing logistics and support vehicles) and Project Saucepan (replacing the maritime patrol C-47 Dakotas) being temporarily suspended, this made for an even tougher market.