Deputy Minister Sue van der Merwe arrives in Belgium on a Tri-Nation Visit to Europe, 04 -12 October 2009.

Pretoria - International Relations and Cooperation Deputy Minister Sue van der Merwe has today, 05 October 2009, arrived in Belgium on a tri-nation visit to European countries namely, Belgium, Lithuania and Latvia.

BELGIUM:

Deputy Minister van der Merwe undertakes the visit to Belgium within the context of consolidating bilateral relations between South Africa and Belgium. In addition the visit takes place within the context of consolidating relations between South Africa and the European and Union (EU) and to deepen North-South dialogue. Accordingly, Deputy Minister Sue van der Merwe will hold a meeting with the Belgian Federal Minister for Development Cooperation, Mr. Charles Michel. In addition, Deputy Minister van der Merwe will have a series of meetings with the EU senior officials which will focus, among other things, on:

  • Southern African Customs Union (SACU) – European Union relations.
  • Forthcoming Climate Summit to be held in Copenhagen.
  • South African Partnership Development Agency (SAPDA).

Deputy Minister Sue van der Merwe’s visit follows the successful Second SA-EU Summit held in Cape Town on 12 September 2009 whose primary objectives was also to further deepen SA-EU relations and to address issues of mutual interest and concern between South Africa and the European Union.

LITHUANIA:

Deputy Minister Sue van der Merwe will on 07 October 2009 depart Brussels for Lithuania to hold political consultations with her Lithuanian counterpart from 08 – 09 October 2009.

The political consultations between Deputy Minister Sue van der Merwe take place within the context of strengthening bilateral relations, consolidating current trade and economic co-operation and deepening multilateral cooperation between South Africa African and Lithuania. In addition the visit is aimed at mapping out a well-defined co-operative framework between the two countries.

Four draft Bilateral Agreements between South Africa and Lithuania are presently under consideration, which is yet another indication of a potential for more meaningful future co-operation. Accordingly it is anticipated that the signing of bilateral agreements in the near future will take relations between South Africa and Lithuania to a higher level. 

Bilateral relations between South Africa and Lithuania have developed steadily since diplomatic ties between the two countries were established in 1991.

Trade figures for 2007:

  • Trade Statistics between South Africa and Lithuania 2007
  • Exports from SA to Lithuania: R. 56,902 million
  • Imports from Lithuania to SA: R. 74,000 million
  • South African Trade Balance: R. 17, 098 million

LATVIA

Upon conclusion of her visit to Lithuania Deputy Minister Sue van der Merwe will proceed to Latvia on a visit from 11-12 October 2009 to, among other engagements, hold a meeting with State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr Andries Teikmanis.

Deputy Minister Sue van der Merwe’s visit takes place within the context of consolidating bilateral relations and promoting bilateral economic relations with an emphasis on greater direct trade between South Africa and Latvia.

As an EU member state, Latvia becomes an important partner in the realisation of the elements of the Trade and Development Cooperation Agreement (TDCA) Equally Latvia views South Africa as an important strategic partner. In view of Latvia’s accession to the EU in May 2004 TDCA concluded between South Africa and EU in 1999 became a major tool in all fields including the economy. In this regard very high level visits been the two countries have taken place in the recent past including a South Africa is by far Latvia’s major trading partner in Africa

A number of bilateral agreements between the two countries remain under consideration and include:

  • Agreement on the Waiver of Visas for Diplomatic and Official passports Holders;
  • Agreement on the Avoidance of Double taxation and Fiscal Evasion with regard to Taxes on Income;
  • Bilateral Agreement on Scientific and Technological Cooperation.

Recent figures show that there is a significant increase in the trade volume between South Africa and Latvia although tilted to Latvia’s favour:

  SA EXPORTS TO LATVIA: SA IMPORTS:   TOTAL TRADE:
2006 19,872,000 14,104,000   33,976,000
2007 19,599,000 457,098,000 476,697,000
2008 29,419,661 83,024.485 112,444,146
2009 15,097,660 16,368,548 31,466,208

Deputy Minister is also expected to pay courtesy calls on the Deputy Speaker of the Latvian Parliament, Ms Solvita Albotina and the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Latvian Parliament, Mr Andris Berzins.

Deputy Minister Sue van der Merwe is expected to return to South Africa on 13 October 2009.

For more information contact Nomfanelo Kota on 082 459 3787.

Issued by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation
Private Bag X152
Pretoria

05 October 2009.

 

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