US Treasury secretary visits the upgraded Ford Motor Company’s Silverton assembly plant in Pretoria

US Treasury secretary Janet Yellen recently visited the upgraded Ford Motor Company’s Silverton assembly plant in Pretoria. The plant is one of two in the country. Earlier that day, she met the Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana.

Yellen’s stop in Pretoria was part of her three-country tour of Africa that began in Senegal. South Africa is the United States’ largest trading partner on the continent.

“We know that a thriving Africa is in the interest of the United States. A thriving Africa means a larger market for our goods and services. It means more investment opportunities for our businesses, like this Ford plant, which can create jobs in Africa and customers for American businesses.”

Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa is a wholly-owned subsidiary of US multinational Ford Motor Company. In 2021, Ford Motor Company invested R15.8 billion in the Silverton plant and supplier tooling to produce the next-generation Ford Ranger. The plant currently employees about 4 500 people.

“The US is South Africa’s third-largest trading partner and a major destination for South African investment. In turn, South Africa is our largest trading partner in Africa. In the coming years, we intend to build on that strong foundation to promote even deeper economic integration here, as well as with other African countries,” said Yellen.

She said the US saw considerable potential in the continent, including in its burgeoning population and increasing connectivity.

Ford Motor Company Africa president Neale Hill said that, with the company celebrating its centenary this year, it was looking forward to growing further in the next 100 years, with the aim of developing and contributing positively to the South African economy and new business in the country, as well as continuing to serve as an example of a good brand for the continent and for the export of its products.

About 600 US companies operate in South Africa, employing about 220 000 people and generating revenue equivalent to about 10% of South Africa’s entire gross domestic product, US Ambassador to South Africa Reuben Brigety said at the event.

Ford, a major US investor in South Africa, is investing $1 billion to expand output at the plant by 20%, adding 1 200 new jobs, and aims to develop a freight rail link with a seaport 1 120kms away.

US Secretary of Treasury Janet Yellen has described the Ford Motor Company’s Silverton assembly plant, in Pretoria, as a strong example of how deepening economic integration between the US and South Africa, and the continent more broadly, can produce good jobs and boost economic growth for both regions.