Joint Communiqué on the 4th Session of the South African-Swedish Binational Commission

The fourth session of the South African - Swedish Binational Commission took place in Pretoria, South Africa, on 29 and 30 November 2005. The Binational Commission was co-chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden, Mr Bosse Ringholm, and the Deputy President of South Africa, Ms Phumzile Mlambo Ngcuka.

Bilateral talks were held between Deputy President Mlambo Ngcuka and Deputy Prime Minister Ringholm in which they discussed the domestic political situation in each country, regional developments, gender issues, HIV/AIDS, trade and investment relations, the reform of the United Nations and the WTO.

The Binational Commission consists of three committees dealing with Political Affairs, Economic Affairs and Social and Development Cooperation Affairs. Each committee met separately and discussed a range of issues of mutual interest and laid out the direction for Swedish - South African relations for the next few years.

Political Affairs Committee

It was agreed that the Policy Analysis Unit of the Swedish Foreign Ministry and the Research and Analysis Unit of the South Africa Department of Foreign Affairs would cooperate more closely together. An invitation to hold formal discussions on this cooperation in Sweden in 2006 was accepted by South Africa.

It was agreed that the Peace and Security Working Group (PSWG), which was established during the 2003 BNC, had been very useful in encouraging cooperation on a strategic level. It was therefore decided to continue with the PSWG and that it would meet in South Africa in 2006 to follow-up on the implementation of the decisions taken during the 2004 and 2005 meetings.

Reports were given on the Defence Memorandum of Understanding Committee meetings of 2004 and 2005. Various issues were discussed and feedback was given on the work of the MoU Committee's Working Groups. The next meeting would take place in South Africa in 2007, and the Committee would work closely with the PSWG.

Briefings were given and discussions were held on the African Union, NEPAD, SADC, the EU - Africa Dialogue, the EU - SADC Dialogue and the upcoming Nordic - Africa Foreign Ministers Informal Consultations. It was agreed that Sweden and South Africa would continue to interact on these issues and cooperate where possible.

The situations in the Great Lakes Region, Cote d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Liberia, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda, Zimbabwe and other countries in Africa were discussed. Briefings were given on South African and Swedish views, engagements and activities with these countries. It was agreed that South Africa and Sweden would continue to share information on developments on a regular basis, both through the PSWG and ad hoc discussions, and to work together where possible to assist in the resolution of conflicts, provide assistance for humanitarian crises, and with post-conflict reconstruction and development. Experience of trilateral cooperation in this regard was viewed positively and continued cooperation would be investigated further.

A discussion took place on the effects of the enlargement of the EU and the prospect of future enlargement. Migration was discussed, both the measures being taken in the United Nations as well as EU migration policy.

Extensive discussions were held on multilateral issues, particularly following the September 2005 UN Summit. The Leaders Network in support of UN Reform, the Peacebuilding Commission and the Human Rights Council were all discussed. The active participation by both Sweden and South Africa was emphasised and it was agreed to cooperate even more intensively to urgently implement the decisions from the Summit. A briefing was also given on humanitarian assistance and it was agreed that Sweden and South Africa would explore possibilities of further cooperation.

Discussions were held on the situation in the Middle East and Levant and note taken of both positive developments and ongoing conflict situations.

Economic Affairs Committee

The delegations agreed that joint efforts should be undertaken to improve the understanding of the magnitude of the bilateral trade relationship, given the statistical difficulties involved.

The Committee also agreed to launch cooperation on growth and distribution. South Africa indicated its keenness to share with Sweden, as a strategic partner, its Accelerated and Shared Growth Strategy paper in order to exchange experiences. Sweden undertook to explore appropriate avenues for cooperation, including through the possible involvement of the Swedish Institute for Growth Policy Studies (ITPS). A joint approach to co-operation should be developed and the Swedish Embassy and DTI should take stock of progress made no later than 31 January 2006.

Sweden and South Africa agreed to continue their valuable dialogue as appropriate in the margins of the WTO Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong.

The Committee agreed to explore possible further tripartite cooperation in the form of trade related technical assistance and capacity building within the context of the ongoing WTO and EPA negotiations on the basis of concrete South African proposals. Cooperation on technical barriers to trade and sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures was identified as being of particular interest. A final report on the Tralac project will be presented in May 2006.

The Committee agreed to extend an open mandate for constructive co-operation on trade and investment promotion to the parties involved and looked forward to regular progress reports.

The Committee agreed to further explore the possibilities for deeper co-operation between OTGS, DTI and other relevant promotion partners.

The Committee welcomed the South African proposal that a Swedish awareness event of an appropriate form be organized next year to promote understanding of the Swedish market to South African companies and vice versa. South Africa will present a proposal no later than 31 January 2006.

The Committee noted the positive developments on the South African Gripen programme and agreed to continue to monitor progress made.

It was agreed that Trade and Investment South Africa (TISA) should work closely with the Embassy of Sweden /Swedish Trade Council to build on the results of the recent trip undertaken by South Africa to Sweden

The Committee agreed that the parties should explore the content of further and deepened co-operation in CSR, including through an additional meeting between experts, on the basis of a concrete Swedish proposal. South Africa welcomed the invitation by the Swedish Trade Minister to his South African counterpart to participate in a so-called side event on CSR at the margins of the WTO Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong.

South Africa offered to present a concrete labour market forum proposal as a basis for further action by the end of this year. Sweden expressed its willingness to organize a working visit to Sweden to jointly take this work further. A possible event with the participation of relevant decision-makers in South Africa was also considered. It was agreed that a plan of action for bilateral cooperation in this area should be finalized by 1July 2006.

As a follow up to the meeting in Stockholm in September 2005 between Minister Mpahlwa and Minister Ostros, the delegations agreed to intensify the preparations for an exchange of staff between the dti and the Swedish Ministry of Trade and Industry.

Social and Development Cooperation Affairs Committee

Both delegations expressed appreciation for the progress made since the 2003 BNC.

Discussions were held on the Global Development debate. There was mutual approach to a commitment to the Paris Declaration, UN and WTO reform, the MDGs. Great emphasis was placed on the importance of working closely to further South Africa and Sweden's joint vision. It was noted that South Africa and Sweden work closely together at the multilateral level, i.e. with regard to the World Bank and within the UN system. The need for reform of these institutions was underlined.

Ownership of the development process by South Africa was highlighted. The delegations agreed that there must be a recipient led partnership-in-development, meaning ownership of the developing countries which demand and entail shared responsibility, transparency and accountability.

A briefing was given on tripartite cooperation and the African Renaissance Fund. The Committee agreed that the existing bilateral relationship between South Africa and Sweden is the foundation for the future tripartite cooperation in Africa. Tripartite cooperation should be further explored and strengthened. The Parties will jointly establish mechanisms and strategies to further tripartite cooperation

It was noted that a Country Strategic Framework (CSP) of cooperation ending in December 2008 regulates the current development aid relationship between South Africa and Sweden. It was noted that the CSP reflects South Africa's development priorities namely:

  • Improved service delivery (especially at municipal and provincial level)
  • Combating of HIV and AIDS
  • Contribute to reducing poverty, vulnerability and inequality
  • Access to justice
  • Advancement and emancipation of women
  • Equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities

The CSP 2004-08 aims at transforming the present development cooperation into a broader sustainable partnership as well as strengthening existing and stimulating new partnerships.

It was noted that the bilateral cooperation has the general character of a partnership programme, where Sweden contributes towards the South African economic strategic framework. As regards cost sharing, it was further noted that substantial progress had been made since the 2003 BNC.

The Committee noted that institutional cooperation has been consolidated over the last few years and should be encouraged, as it entails a more viable equal partnership such as sharing of best practices and increases the possibility of sustainability.

Several partnerships or fora in the fields of health, arts and culture, science and technology and business have been established as a result of the BNC and have shown tremendous growth since the last BNC. Both delegations expressed satisfaction of the increase and expansion of initiatives.

In order to make the cooperation more visible, as well as known to potential stakeholders, Sweden and South Africa have embarked on various information initiatives.

Pretoria, South Africa, 30 November 2005

Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
Tshwane
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30 November 2005

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