President Mbeki to hold Discussions with French Prime Minister Dominique De Villepin in Pretoria

Pretoria - South African President Thabo Mbeki is scheduled to hold political and economic discussions with French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin at the Presidential Guesthouse in Pretoria on Friday 1 December 2006. Prime Minister de Villepin is expected to arrive in South Africa later today Thursday 30 November 2006.

President Mbeki will hold discussions with Prime Minister de Villepin within the context of South Africa's priority to promote North-South co-operation with a view to pushing back the frontiers of poverty and underdevelopment.

The meeting between President Mbeki and Prime Minister de Villepin will be preceded by a working luncheon between Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma with Prime Minister de Villepin as part of preparations for the bilateral meeting between President Mbeki and Prime Minister de Villepin.

Issues on the agenda of discussions between President Mbeki and Prime Minister de Villepin are expected to include, among others:

  • The status of bilateral political and economic relations between both countries;
  • Issues relating to Africa, in particular on EU and G8 programmes relating to the African Union and Nepad, conflict resolution and peace-building initiatives;
  • Regional integration;
  • North-South cooperation including debt relief, the comprehensive reform of the UN and progress in the Financing for Development initiative; and
  • The Middle East Peace Process.

While in South Africa Prime Minister de Villepin will deliver an open address to the University of Witwatersrand and visit Soweto.

Prime Minister de Villepin is expected to depart from South Africa on Saturday 2 December 2006.

Bilateral Trade

France ranks amongst South Africa's top ten trading partners. South African exports to France are dominated by machinery; mineral and base metal products; vegetable products; chemical and allied industry products; and textile and textile articles.

South Africa's top five imports from France consist mainly of vehicles, aircraft (airbus), vessel and associated transport; machinery and mechanical appliances and electrical equipment; products of chemical or allied industries; plastics and rubber articles; and optical, photographic and cinematographic equipment.

From January to June 2006, total trade between South Africa and France amounted to R12, 5 billion, with a trade surplus of R5,8 billion in favour of France. In 2005, total trade amounted to R 22 billion with a trade surplus of R 13 billion in favour of France. Bilateral trade in 2004 was R24 billion and R20 billion in 2003.

Development Assistance to South Africa

  • French ODA to South Africa from 1995-2005 amounted to R1.6 billion. Sectors that benefited from the ODA included DBSA, Education, SAPS, National Treasury and Provincial and Local Government.

  • On 11 September 2006, Deputy Minister Moleketi and the French Deputy Minister for Cooperation signed the Partnership Framework Document for France's ODA assistance to South Africa for the period 2006 to 2010 consisting of a package of more than R3,4 billion, of which 89% will be in loans and 11% as ODA.

Investment

France and South Africa have an agreement to promote "privileged economic relations" between the two countries. New French companies in South Africa have trebled over the past years and there are now 150 plus established French companies in South Africa.

French investments in South Africa, including direct, portfolio and other investments, for the period including 31 December 2004 amounted to R4, 966b. The Largest of which was the purchase of Blue Circle by Lafarge SA worth R1.5 billion in 1998.

Other French Investments in South Africa include: Danone-Clover, Mozal, Michelin tyres, Essilor, SIIAF, Alcatel, Boutgues Group, RATP Development, Total, Renault, Peugeot, Thompson CSF, Air Liquide. The French company Bouygues Travaux Publics, and the French railway and bus company RATP Development are part of the Bombela consortium that won the bid for the Gautrain.

Institutional and Co-operation Initiatives

  • The South Africa-France Forum for Political Dialogue (established in 1997) convenes on an annual basis. This forum is co-chaired by Director-General of the DFA and the Secretary-General of the French Foreign Ministry. The last meeting took place June 2005 in Pretoria while the next meeting is scheduled for 7 December 2006 in Paris.
  • Other institutional mechanisms facilitated through partner departments include the Joint Committee on Trade and Industry, and the Joint Defence Committee.
  • The Department of Science and Technology is currently negotiating an agreement with their French counterparts to establish a Science and Technology Committee.
  • The Declaration of Intent on Co-operation on French Language Training between the Department of Foreign Affairs and the French Embassy was finalised in July 2005. Progress on this initiative has been very promising and the programme and discussions are underway to expand the programme to include elements such as translations, interpretation, advanced French and standards setting.
  • The Picasso Art Exhibition held in February and March 2006 at the Standard Bank Museum in Johannesburg brought together 70 original Picasso art works to Africa. Several South African artists also showcased their artwork at the exhibition.
  • Earlier this year, Eskom obtained a generator from Electricite de France (EDF) following the breakdown of the generator at Koeberg Nuclear Power Station.

Issued by Ronnie Mamoepa on 082 990 4853

Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
Pretoria
0001

30 November 2006

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