President Mbeki to host President of Czech Republic in Pretoria

Pretoria - South African President Thabo Mbeki will host his counterpart from the Czech Republic President Václav Klaus for bilateral political and economic discussions at the Union Buildings during his State Visit to South Africa on Tuesday 12 December 2006.

President Klaus's visit to South Africa will be the first ever State Visit, by a Head of State from the Czech Republic and Head of State from a Central European country. President Klaus will visit Pretoria and Cape Town while in South Africa from Tuesday - Wednesday 12-13 December 2006.

President Mbeki will host his counterpart within the context of South Africa's priority to strengthen South Africa - European Union relations. Historically, and as a new member state of the European Union (EU) the Czech Republic is playing a constructive role in development projects in Africa.

Issues on the agenda of discussions between Presidents Mbeki and Klaus are expected to include, among others:

  • The status of bilateral political and economic relations between both countries including the increase of bilateral trade and investment and co-operation in the fields of culture, education and science and technology;
  • Conflict resolution and peacekeeping in Africa;
  • A briefing on developments in the EU and an exchange of views on the proposed South Africa - EU partnership; and
  • Issues of multilateral and global concern including the comprehensive reform of the United Nations and South Africa's accession to the non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council 2007-2008, as well as the Czech Republic's candidature as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for 2008-2009.

The following agreements are expected to be signed on conclusion of discussions between Presidents Mbeki and Klaus on Tuesday 12 December 2006:

  • Agreement on Economic Co-operation
  • Memorandum of Understanding between the National Research Foundation of the Republic of South Africa and the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic on Science and Technological Co-operation; and
  • Memorandum of Understanding on Co-operation between Chambers of Commerce and Industry in South Africa (CHAMSA) and the Economic Chamber of the Czech Republic.

The Czech Republic is represented in sub-Sahara Africa by eight missions. As a new member of the EU it is playing a constructive role on the Continent. The country provides between 50 - 60 scholarships to sub-Sahara African countries. For 2005/2006 six scholarships were granted to the African Union's NEPAD programme to students to study agriculture. Its top priority is the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals and other internationally agreed development commitments. In this context, it regards the New African Initiative (NEPAD) as one of the good examples of a regional initiative.

Economic Bilateral Relations

Economic diplomacy is one of the fundamental tools for developing the Czech Republic's external economic relations and export promotion activities. Accession to the EU improved the conditions for the Czech Republic's foreign trade and it has become the country with the fastest-growing foreign trade in the EU. Within the EU, the country's advantageous geographical location makes it an optimal distribution point for the whole of the EU and has encouraged foreign investment.

Trade figures indicated that South Africa remains the Czech Republic's biggest trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa and in Africa as a whole. Nearly 40% of its total trade with the region takes place with South Africa.

A few South African multinationals, i.e. SABMiller, Mondi and Sappi are active in the Czech Republic.

Plzensky Prazdroj a.s, a subsidiary of SABMiller plc, is the leading beer producer in Central Europe and the largest exporter of Czech beer to more than 50 countries world wide. The group's brands include the premium international beer, Pilsner Urquell as well as an exceptional range of market leading local brands. By volume SABMiller is the second largest global brewing company worldwide with brewing interests or distribution agreements in over 60 countries across five continents. Outside the USA, SABMiller plc is also one of the largest bottlers of Coca-Cola products in the world.

There has been a steady increase in trade between South Africa and the Czech Republic since 1994. The bilateral trade for 2005 amounted to US$292,8 million, in favour of the Czech Republic with a bigger increase in Czech exports to South Africa.

South African exports are represented by 33, 49% machinery and transport equipment, 28.5% raw materials (wool, synthetic fibres and paper pulp, 19, 72% consumer goods, and 10.79% foodstuffs). South Africa's imports from the Czech Republic consist mainly of automatic data processing equipment, motor vehicle spares and parts, fruit, iron and steel, chrome ores and medicaments.

Trade statistics:

2004 - Exports to South Africa: US$71,9 million
2004 - Imports from South Africa: US$132,9 million

2005 - Export to South Africa: US$157,8 million
2005 - Imports from South Africa: US$134,9 million

Turnover: 2004: US$204.8 million
2005: US$292,8 million

Balance: 2004: -60,9 million
2005: 22.8 million

Source: Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic

Development Assistance

As a member of the EU and of the international community of democratic and economically developed countries, the Czech Republic conducts and provides its own International Development Co-operation at both bilateral and multilateral levels. The country's international development cooperation is based on partnership principles, efficiency and transparency. The country is convinced that the improvement of partnerships at national regional and global levels is essential, as efforts to mobilise greater domestic and international resources for development in the least developed countries are still considered insufficient.

Of the Czech development assistance, 1.1% of their GDP is earmarked for Africa and it is increasing every year. It has approved a plan for the long-term channelling of international development cooperation into the following priority countries: Angola, Zambia, Vietnam, Mongolia, Yemen, Moldova, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro, and medium-term priority countries: Namibia, Malawi, Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Czech Republic's involvement in Africa

The Czech Republic supports the "Global Partnership for Development" and efforts to find a solution of the debt problem for poor countries, limiting of agricultural subsidies and creating freer conditions for trade. The country attaches great importance to the development dimension of the international trade relations, and believes that the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Generalised System of Preferences is one of the most important instruments for the strengthening of the collaboration and further improvement of market access especially for LDC's.

Angola: Czech-Angolan relations grew in intensity over the years and Angola, as one of the world's least developed countries (LDC's), is among the Czech Republic's eight foreign development cooperation priority countries for 2006-2010. In its development cooperation with the country, the Czech Republic focuses on the agriculture an education sectors. Development of the agricultural sector is essential, both for balanced economic development and for poverty reduction in the country.

Zambia: Identified as one of the priority countries for long-term development cooperation due to high level of poverty and low level of human development. In line with the MDGs and the international efforts to reduce child mortality; improve maternal health and combat HIV and Aids, malaria and other diseases the Czech Republic concentrates on the development of the health sector.

Namibia: One of the biggest beneficiaries of the Czech development aid in Africa. Various development projects are ongoing, such as assistance to families affected by HIV and Aids; support for the development of agricultural studies, university scholarships; and environmental impact projects.

Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC): As the country moves towards political and economic stability, bilateral relations with the DRC have deepened and new room has been created for economic co-operation. The Czech Republic took part in the creation of a security framework for the presidential elections by training Congolese police instructors. Czech observers remain in the UN MONUC mission in the country.

Sudan: The Czech Republic supports the efforts by the international community to achieve a peaceful solution to the conflict in Sudan. It actively supports the EU policy on Sudan and is providing financial assistance towards resolving the humanitarian crisis in the Darfur region.

Media Programme for State Visit to South Africa by President of the Czech Republic Václav Klaus, Tuesday 12 - Thursday 13 December 2006

Issued by Ronnie Mamoepa on 082 990 4853

Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152

10 December 2006

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