Notes on comments to the Media following the meeting between Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sue van der Merwe and Her Australian Counterpart Bruce Billson, Pretoria, Monday, 7 February 2005

Opening Remarks by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sue Van Der Merwe:

  • Welcome remarks
  • Minister Bruce Billson is the Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Federal Parliament);
  • Minister Billson is in South Africa for a number of reasons:
  • Address the South African Institute for International Affairs(SAIIA) on South - South Trade: Winning from Liberalisation;
  • Witness the Bafana Bafana game against the Australian soccer team
  • Participate in the African Mining Conference in Cape Town.
  • South Africa and Australia have a strong and historical relationship and this meeting served to further strengthen that;
  • Minister Billson also has responsibility of the trade portfolio and we are encouraged
  • As South Africa we are looking forward to the participation of the Australian soccer team with nations of the world in the 2010 World Cup.

Reply by Mr Bruce Billson: Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Federal Parliament);

  • I am delighted to undertake this first visit to South Africa and appreciate the warmth with which we have been received.
  • We have gained better insights from the exchange we had on a number of issues;
  • We have just completed visits to Botswana and the Central African Republic;
  • We would like to acknowledge South Africa's achievements over the last 10 years since establishment of its democracy and pledge our continued support;
  • We share common values and a common history and our two countries will continue to work together with that as a base;
  • Our economic relations are continuing to expand and our bilateral trade currently stand at over R11 billion;
  • The trade between the two countries are focused on the following areas:
    • Mining/ minerals;
    • Cars and motor-components;
    • Chemicals
    • Services and Tourism;
    • Looking forward to rest of the visit and to return to South Africa. END

Australia is the 12th biggest economy in the world and since 2000 has had one of the highest GDP growth rates. Australia is considered the fifth most competitive economy in the world according to the Global Competitive Report.

Australia is SA's third largest trading partner in Asia, after Japan and the PRC, totaling R11,4 billion. Australia is also a big investor in South Africa and the merger in the 1990's of Australian BHP Billiton and Gencor, created the largest mining company in the world

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2003 Department of Foreign Affairs, Republic of South Africa