The American Chamber of Commerce in South Africa on Wednesday voiced concerns over prolonged strikes in South Africa, saying the strikes would dampen investors' confidence in the country.
The ongoing strikes in the auto sector are a major concern for global companies operating in South Africa, said Jeff Nemeth, president of the chamber's South African branch.
He made the remarks as US Congress was considering whether to include South Africa in the renewal of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
Nemeth has been meeting with US law makers to persuade them to extend the AGOA which expires in 2015, according to the South African Broadcasting Corporation.
The AGOA is a preferential market access system given to specific countries in Africa and the Caribbean by the United States. Established by the U. S. government in 2000, AGOA's central purpose is to strengthen trade between Washington and 37 sub-Saharan African countries.
Nemeth urged South Africa to start acting like a global player.
Nowhere in the world have they witnessed strikes that lasted for eight weeks, said Nemeth.
"If South Africa wants to operate like global players then they have to act like a global player, for example the automobile industry is now in its eighth week of strikes and that just doesn't happen anywhere else in the world that is just from my point of view," Nemeth added.
The South African economy has been hard hit by a series of strikes over the past few months. The strikes swept through almost all major sectors in mining, construction, auto industry, transportation and energy.
Currently, a prolonged strike by tens of thousands of petrol attendants and workers at car repair shops and component factories has been dragging on, with no sign of ending.
If the strike action in the component industry continued, the damage to the prospects of the automobile industry and on foreign investment sentiment would be immeasurable and would take years to recover, the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa warned.