South African Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma to Meet with Flemish Minister for Administrative Affairs, Foreign Policy, Media and Tourism Mr Gert Bourgeois, 30 April 2005


PRETORIA - South African Foreign Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma will meet the Flemish Minister for Administrative Affairs, Foreign Policy, Media and Tourism, Mr. Geert Bourgeois in Pretoria on Saturday, 30 April 2005. This will be Mr. Bourgeois' first visit to South Africa.

South Africa and Flanders have since 1995 established a close and growing working relationship especially in the field of development co-operation. Flanders is one of the Regional States of the Federal Kingdom of Belgium with responsibilities that have been devolved from the Belgian Federal Government. These responsibilities include development co-operation; foreign trade; economic policy; agriculture, transport.

The relationship has been formalised through the signing of various Declarations of Intent, a number of Agreements that led to the Agreement on Co-operation between South Africa and Flanders in 2000. Subsequently, during the meeting of President Thabo Mbeki with Minister President Yves Lyterme in November 2005, the parties signed two further Declarations of Intent in the fields of C-Operation on Small, Medium and Macro-enterprises and of Gemmology and Mineral Beneficiation respectively.

The visit of Minister Bourgeois follows on from the visit of President Thabo Mbeki to Belgium in November 2004. On that occasion Flanders committed itself to providing further development co-operation over the next five years, particularly in the Free State, Kwa Zulu-Natal and Limpopo provinces.

Since 2004 the two countries have been engaged in jointly working out a new Country Strategy Paper for the period January 2005 - December 2009 which addresses sectors such as agriculture, security, tourism, and socio-economic development in the above mentioned three provinces. Flanders has announced that it will provide an additional R200 million for the implementation of this strategy over the next five years.
In regard to economic cooperation in support of South Africa's second economy several Working Group meetings were held during 2005 to implement the two Declarations of Intent in the fields of Cooperation on Small, Medium and Micro-enterprises and of Gemmology and Mineral Beneficiation respectively.

Concerning SMME cooperation, South Africa and Flanders agreed on the importance of promoting entrepeneurship; creating enabling environments for businesses and entrepreneurs; and enhancing the competitiveness and capacity of all vital economic actors. The objective is to have bilateral projects in operation in 2006. In regard to Gemmology, it was decided that cooperation will focus on the areas of Science and Technology, Education and Vocational Training and Capacity building in the area of promotion of the diamond jewelry sector.

The focus of Flemish Co-Operation programmes in South Africa has been on social development with the emphasis on human resource development, poverty alleviation and health issues. In addition over 50 joint research projects have been launched with Flanders, focusing primarily on skills shortages in ICT and on communicable diseases.

In the beginning of the 1900's competence for foreign trade and export promotion was partly transferred to the three regions in Belgium, including Flanders. Three regional foreign trade promotion bodies were subsequently created. At the same time federal and regional governments were given competence to engage in international relations in all policy domains under their competence.

Belgium is South Africa's 6th largest trading partner, with a large part of this trade coming form Flanders.
Trade statistics:

Exports to Belgium:
2003 - R 7,36 billion;
2004 - R 7,21 billion

Exports to Belgium are rough diamonds, gemstones & jewelry; minerals; automotive components like catalytic converters fruit; mineral fuels; petroleum; distilled products; machinery & mechanical tools.
Imports from Belgium:
2003 - R 3,76 billion;
2004 - R 3, 83 billion

Imports include pharmaceutical products; diamonds; synthetic materials; electrical machinery.
Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flows from Belgium to South Africa amounts to R1,9 billion, making Belgium the 10th largest foreign investor amongst EU countries.
South Africa is also a popular destination for Belgian tourists and a large contingent is from Flanders. During 2003 43 537 Belgian tourists visited South Africa.

MEDIA OPPORTUNITY:

SATURDAY, 30 APRIL 2005:
11.00: Arrival of media ahead of meeting
Venue: Entrance -
Presidential Guest House

Contact: Hugo Lambrechts - 083 3807309

11.30: Photo opportunity at the start of the meeting between Minister Dlamini Zuma and Minister Bourgeois.
Venue: Presidential Guest House

For further enquiries please contact Hugo Lambrechts

Issued by Ronnie Mamoepa

Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bagx152
PRETORIA
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29 April 2005



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