Special zone for Atlantis on the cards

A LARGE portion of land in Atlantis could be declared a special economic zone, focused specifically on the green industries sector, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said on Wednesday.

Special economic zones for the green manufacturing sector are still to be promulgated, but Mr Davies said an advisory board, to make recommendations on their establishment, was likely to be appointed "within the next month".

Atlantis was chosen because of its large tracts of unused industrial land and because of its proximity to the Saldanha Bay Industrial Development Zone.

Atlantis has suffered from significant job losses and green manufacturing is seen a key job driver.

Companies working in special economic zones qualify for a range of incentives, such as a 15% corporate tax rate, a building tax allowance, an employment tax incentive, value added tax exemption and a duty free provision.

"In the next year we will see some decisions being taken," Mr Davies said. "We have to go through the processes, we have to weigh up the feasibility studies … we work with provinces, and all the provinces identified potential special economic zones."

On Wednesday, Mr Davies officially opened the R300m Gestamp Renewable Industries wind tower manufacturing plant in Atlantis, which is expected to create 200 jobs. Chinese electronics company Hisense opened a factory in Atlantis last year.

Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille said the Gestamp plant was the first major investment the city had attracted through its pilot investment incentive scheme launched last year. "The hard financial incentives that we make available include the exemption of application fees for land and building plans and waiving development facilitation fees. We write off debt when businesses meet employment targets, enabling job creation through direct investments," Ms de Lille said.

The Western Cape has attracted about R20bn in actual and planned investment in renewable energy in the past five years, and more than R30bn in overall foreign direct investment in the past three years.