Issue 62 | 14 June 2013
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The Ministerial Political Dialogue (MPD) is a structured engagement that takes place annually as part of the South Africa-European Union (SA-EU) Strategic Relationship. It also serves as a preparatory meeting for the annual SA-EU Summit, which this year will take place in South Africa on 18 July 2013.
The Minister of International Relations, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, met Baroness Catherine Ashton, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, who is also the Vice-President of the European Commission, for the 12th SA-EU MPD on 10 June 2013.

South Africa and the EU’s common interests and shared values provide a natural foundation for the strategic partnership, underpinned by the Trade, Development and Cooperation Agreement (TDCA), which was signed in 1999.  The TDCA provided the legal basis for close relations on trade, development, economic cooperation and political dialogue and was an important stepping stone for the eventual establishment of the SA-EU Strategic Partnership and the adoption of its Joint Action Plan in May 2007.

In 2013, the engagements between South Africa and the EU will be focussed around a central theme namely “Job Creation through Inward Investment” in response to the diverse demands of the National Development Plan (NDP). South Africa’s NDP sets out ambitious goals for poverty reduction, economic growth, economic transformation and job creation. 

From a trade perspective, the EU has maintained its lead as South Africa’s most important regional trading partner between 2000 and 2011. Since the entry into force of the TDCA, there has been a 128% increase in total trade between South Africa and the EU. The EU remains South Africa’s main partner in terms of development assistance. It has set aside €980 million (close to R10 billion for South Africa) for the period 2007 to 2013 or about €140 million a year.
The Minister and her delegation also held bilateral discussions with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belgium, Didier Reynders. In July last year, the Minister hosted Minister Reynders during his visit to South Africa. During that meeting, they extensively discussed the state of bilateral relations between South Africa and Belgium and exchanged views on developments on the continent, including the situation in the Great Lakes Region.

Belgium is one of South Africa’s development partners. Cooperation between the two countries covers a broad range of areas, development cooperation, transport and logistics. In particular, cooperation between the ports of Durban and Antwerp is longstanding and highly valued. 

Belgium remains a valued economic partner of South Africa and trade and tourism between the two countries are growing. Belgium is South Africa’s 12th-largest export destination globally and the fourth in Europe.
Belgium has allocated an amount of €25 million (R327,3 million) as Official Development Cooperation to South Africa over five years, up to 2016. In addition, the region of Flanders also has a programme valued at €25 million, over the same time period.


The visit to Europe will conclude in Finland, where South Africa will participate in the 13th African and Nordic Foreign Ministers Meeting, scheduled for 15 to 16 June 2013.

South Africa attaches great importance to its Nordic partners and believes that this engagement will serve as a platform to further consolidate and strengthen the already cordial relations with the Nordics.
“In terms of our Constitution, South Africa belongs to all who live in it, and we, therefore, have been appalled and deeply saddened by the recent acts of violence against Somalis and other foreign nationals in South Africa.”
Addressing the media on 7 June 2013, the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, expressed the South African Government’s strongest condemnation of the recent attacks and killing of Somali and other foreign nationals in the country.

“The looting, displacement and killing of foreign nationals in South Africa should not be viewed as xenophobic attacks, but opportunistic criminal acts that have the potential to undermine the unity and cohesiveness of our communities. There is no cause to justify this heinous crime. We commend the swift action of the South African Police Service in apprehending about 100 people associated with the recent lawlessness.

“Our thoughts and prayers are also with the victims, families and friends of this horrific crime. We recall the support and solidarity accorded to us during our fight against apartheid by African people, including Somalis, and wish to express our sincere gratitude. 

“As South Africa, we value our close relations with our neighbours and the rest of the African continent.”
“The partnership envisioned an Africa without borders, an Africa that is seamlessly linked from Cape to Cairo by efficient infrastructure.” – Transnet CEO Brian Molefe
Transnet and the New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad) Business Foundation have launched the Africa Infrastructure Desk, a platform for linking the private and public sectors in getting infrastructure projects implemented across Africa.

The "innovative research, linkage and relationship platform" will provide information on infrastructure developments, help develop investment opportunities for companies and facilitate engagements between the public and private sector. The aim is to make a meaningful impact on spatial and industrial development, as well as regional integration, in the southern African region and sub-Saharan Africa's north-south corridor.

According to Nepad, infrastructure continues to be Africa's "missing link" when it comes to developing integrated intra-Africa regional trade. While intra-African trade falls far below the continent's potential, infrastructure projects suffer from lack of information, inconsistent cross-border policy and poor project bankability.
Hisense started manufacturing flat-screen televisions and refrigerators at the plant in February 2013, recruiting and training 300 previously unemployed residents from the area.
Chinese consumer electronics company Hisense officially opened a R350-million electronics factory in Atlantis north of Cape Town on 7 June 2013. The company announced that it planned to double the size of the factory over the next few years, and increase its staff complement to 1 000 people, with a view to extending production to washing machines, air conditioning units and possibly wine coolers and coffee machines.

The Atlantis factory – one of only five established by the company outside China –- will produce its goods for local consumption to begin with, but will ultimately export into Africa.

The Minister of Economic Development, Ebrahim Patel, said that this factory “brought hope that the burden of poverty and unemployment that ravaged the people of this area for years could be reversed”.
The agreement aims to strengthen agricultural development and cooperation between the two countries at technical, operational and policy levels and it would enhance South-South cooperation, particularly in improving agricultural production efficiencies, sharing technologies and facilitating trade in agricultural products.
South Africa has signed an agriculture agreement with Argentina, extending the country's programme of opening up markets with non-traditional trading partners. The Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, signed a statement of intent with her Argentine counterpart, Norberto Yauhar, in Pretoria on 6 June 2013.

The second-largest country in both South America and Latin America, Argentina shares South Africa's interest in developing small-scale farmers, as well as in promoting “no till” technologies and bio-safety.

Minister Joemat-Pettersson expressed South Africa's appreciation for Argentina's assistance in preparing for the Food and Agriculture Organisation's 14th World Forestry Congress, to be hosted in Durban in 2015. Argentina has participated in a number of events in South Africa, showcasing agricultural capital goods produced by medium-sized companies.

Argentinean products have been exhibited at South Africa's Nampo Harvest Day every year since 2008, and there has been extensive collaboration in the experimental field of “no till’ technologies since 2007.
Opened in 2011, the schoolhouse has become an integral part of its neighbourhood in Cosmo City, Johannesburg, showcasing the use of innovative building systems in low-income communities.
An early childhood development centre and teacher training facility in Johannesburg, designed and built by United States student volunteers in partnership with South African engineers and contractors, has been named "Best Small Project" in Engineering News-Record's (ENR's) inaugural Global Best Projects Awards.

The winners, selected by an independent jury of industry leaders in design and construction, were announced during ENR's Global Construction Summit in New York on 7 June 2013.

The "Schoolhouse South Africa" project, along with London's "The Shard" project (winner in the "Best Large Project Category"), were singled out by the judges as "particularly innovative examples of global design and construction, excelling in all judging criteria and demonstrating the past year's best achievement in worldwide project excellence".

The project was led by a group of architecture students from Cornell University, in partnership with Johannesburg-based non-profit organisation Education Africa, whose architecture programme encourages student organisations to design and build low-cost pre-schools within impoverished communities. Source:
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