Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad Concludes Visit to Switzerland

London - South African Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad will today, Thursday 20 October 2005, begin a one day working visit to London on the second leg of his three nation visit to Europe, during which he will hold consultations with Lord Triesman, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State; David Quarry, Prime Minister Blair's Policy Advisor on the Middle East; and John Sawers, Director-General for Political Affairs.

Issues on the agenda of discussions will include, among others:

  • European support for the achievement of the African agenda;
  • Discussions regarding conflict areas in Africa with particular reference to Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe and Côte d'Ivoire; and
  • The European perspective of the situation in the Middle East, including Palestine and Israel, Iraq and Iran.

Deputy Minister Pahad on Wednesday, 19 October 2005 concluded an official visit to Berne, Switzerland where he co-chaired together with his Swiss counterpart Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Michael Ambühl, the Annual Meeting of the Working Group between both countries.

Deputy Minister Pahad's three nation European comes within the context of South Africa's objective to consolidate North-South relations in the interests of achieving the developmental agenda of Africa in particular and the South in general.

Discussions between Deputy Minister Pahad and Secretary of State Ambühl looked at the status of bilateral relations between both countries, African achievements and challenges, and other global issues including the situation in the Middle East and the reform of the United Nations.

With regard to bilateral relations, both sides expressed great satisfaction with the status of bilateral political and economic relations between both countries. Secretary of State Ambühl reiterated the Swiss intention to use South Africa as an anchor country for its exploration of opportunities within the SADC region and indeed the African continent. In this regard, Switzerland, on 20 May 2005, announced that it had granted South Africa (as one among nine other countries outside the European Union) special status on the Swiss foreign policy agenda as one of the important areas for Swiss interests outside Europe.

Bilateral Economic Relations between South Africa and Switzerland

Switzerland is one of South Africa's main trading partners with an annual trade turnover of around R10.4billion in 2004 (up from R8.6 billion in 2003). South Africa is an equally important trading partner for Switzerland, reportedly the most important trading partner on the African continent. South Africa is Switzerland's 36th largest export destination. South Africa is currently running a trade surplus with Switzerland valued at 4.1 Billion Rand.

Exports

YearExports (Rands mill)
20003670
20014129
20025568
20035744
20047271

South African exports to Switzerland (Jan to Dec 2004)

  • Nat/cultured pearls, pre + semi-precious stones and metals R 6,180m
  • Base metals and articles thereof R 421m
  • Prepared foodstuffs, beverages, tobacco etc R 130m
  • Mineral products R 138m

Imports from Switzerland

YearImports (Rands mill)
20004459
20014033
20024766
20033484
20043096

South African imports from Switzerland (Jan to Dec 2004)

  • Machinery and mechanical appliances, electrical equipment, etc R959m
  • Products of chemical or allied industries R990m
  • Optical, photographic, surgical instruments, etc. R 402m

Foreign Direct and Portfolio Investments

A number of Swiss companies have considerable operations in South Africa, with many also utilising South Africa as their base for doing business with the rest of Africa, and especially Southern Africa.
South African subsidiaries and branches of Swiss companies employ around 28 000 people and represent well-known companies such as Nestle, Novartis, Sulzer, Hoffmann La Roche, UBS, Credit Suisse, Winterthur International and Schindler.

In total, between 250 and 300 Swiss companies are represented in South Africa.

The overall Swiss FDI invested in South Africa amounted, at the end of 2003, to a total of CHF 1.16 billion (R5.8 billion) (Source: Swiss National Bank).

According to the South African Reserve Bank the total of Swiss FDI invested in South Africa accounts for CHF 1.36 billion (Rand 7.62 billion), making Switzerland the 7th largest investor in South Africa.

The overall Swiss portfolio investments in South Africa amounted, at the end of 2003, to a total of Rand 8.57 billion (CHF 1.53 billion).

The African Agenda

There is much synergy in the positions of both South Africa and Switzerland to matters on African development.

In this regard, Deputy Minister Pahad briefed Secretary of State Ambühl extensively on the situation in African conflict areas with particular reference to Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Côte d'Ivoire, Zimbabwe and Sudan.

Both sides expressed their satisfaction with the way in which these countries are moving towards democratisation and stability. Both sides however, firmly maintained that post-conflict reconstruction and development of all levels in society - politically, economically and socially - must be achieved if the progress achieved thus far is to be consolidated and real prosperity and development attained in these countries.

Deputy Minister Pahad further briefed Secretary of State Ambühl on South Africa's various co-operation initiatives underway in these countries.

Both sides also further agreed to investigate additional opportunities for trilateral partnerships in an attempt to consolidate the political, economic and social upliftment of these countries.

In addition, Deputy Minister Pahad briefed Secretary of State Ambühl extensively on the developments within the African Union and its institutions, SADC and NEPAD.

International Co-operation

Middle East

With South Africa's Presidential Spier Initiative and the Swiss Geneva Initiative currently in place, both Deputy Minister Pahad and Secretary of State Ambühl agreed to further investigate how both countries could assist the people of Palestine and Israel overcome their current challenges and achieve the vision of an independent State of Palestine and Israel living side by side within secure borders.

Multilateral Co-operation

Comprehensive Reform of the United Nations

Deputy Minister Pahad and Secretary of State Ambühl also agreed that both sides would further co-operate on matters regarding the comprehensive reform of the United Nations ahead of the September 2006 General Assembly.

Deputy Minister Pahad's visit to France

Deputy Minister Pahad will later today depart for Paris, France on the final leg of his three nation European visit.

In this regard, Deputy Minister Pahad is scheduled to hold discussions with his counterpart, Deputy Foreign Minister in charge of Co-operation, Development and the Francophony Ms Girardin; Jean-Pierre Lafon, Secretary-General of the Foreign Ministry; Jean-Francois Thibault, Director for North Africa and the Middle East; Stanislas Lefevre de Laboulaye, Foreign Ministry Director for Political and Security; and Michel de Bonnecorse, Africa Advisor to President Chirac in Paris tomorrow, Friday 21 October 2005.

Issues on the agenda of discussions will include, among others:

  • Bilateral political and economic relations between the countries;
  • European support for the achievement of the African agenda; and
  • The European perspective of the situation in the Middle East, including Palestine and Israel, Iraq and Iran.

Issued by Ronnie Mamoepa on 082 990 4853

Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
Pretoria
0001

20 October 2005

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