The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) deserves praise for funding a delegation of South African business owners to the World Food Moscow fair, an action-packed four-day food, and beverage annual event that attract scores of industry captains from around the world.

The key objective of the funding of the recently concluded trip was for the DTI to fulfill its mandate as an enabler of SA businesses to penetrate the international markets without much hassle. The strong bilateral relations that exist between Pretoria and Moscow, made more important by the two countries’ membership of the emerging power group BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa), can only become relevant when the private sector of both countries find leads to cooperate and flourish together.

Not too many people are aware of the DTI’s division better known as Export Marketing and Investment Assistance (AMIA) scheme. According to the DTI, “the objective of the scheme is to develop export markets for South African products and services and to recruit new foreign direct investment into the country”. Over the years officials at DTI, including their chief director of communications, Sidwell Medupe, have been enthusiastic in their public awareness campaigns to popularize this and many other services that are aimed at assisting small, medium to big business to flourish both nationally and internationally.

Every year DTI assists in sending a business delegation to participate in the massive World Food Moscow where consumers are exposed first-hand to SA traders displaying their products – from the famous SA wines, sauces, and juices, the public in Moscow get the opportunity to taste, buy but even more importantly, establish export/import links that are mutually beneficial.

In a recent statement marking the return of the more than thirty SA business people who participated in the Moscow fair the DTI said members of the delegation were in high spirits and hopeful that the solid trade leads they established will develop into concrete deals very soon.

The head of marketing and exports at Rugani Juices, Wesley Browne, was a first-time participant at the annual event.  He was impressed by the warm reception the SA delegation received in Moscow. The experience SA businesses went through during the four days of long-hours exhibition was priceless. Browne puts it thus: “It was really a pleasant experience to be part of the trade fair. It was fulfilling to see how well the South African group was received as our stands were always busy. As a company, we were happy with the opportunity to have members of the public tasting our juice products as that enabled us to gauge the response of the consumers to our product and how well it will be received in the international market.”

Trade links between SA and Russia are made even more important by the glorious history between the two countries which dates back to the days of the USSR and its assistance to the ANC during the Struggle to end apartheid. It is commendable to notice that the ties that bind us together grow stronger to this day. Well done to the DTI.