Ambassador Matjila to Co-chair Review Meeting of SA-Iran JBC

Pretoria – South African and Iranian delegations will on Tuesday 13 January 2009 hold a meeting in Pretoria to review the implementation of decisions taken during the Tenth Meeting of the South Africa-Iran Joint Bilateral Commission (JBC) held in Tehran, Iran in July 2008, in which Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma participated.

The review meeting on Tuesday will be co-chaired by Ambassador Jerry Matjila, the Deputy Director-General responsible for Asia and Middle East in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Dr Behrouz Alishihri, the Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance of Iran, who were appointed to oversee all activities related to the JBC in their respective countries and to ensure that the decisions taken by the JBC were implemented promptly.

In this regard the meeting will review the implementation of decisions taken by the Political and Social Affairs Working Group and the Economic and Technical Working Group, as well as to discuss the way forward, including the possible establishment of technical committees.

The Political and Social Affairs Working Group deliberates upon such issues as the Middle East, Africa, disarmament and nuclear issues, human rights, global governance, regional co-operation, South Africa’s Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative (AsgiSA), education, health, environment and tourism, arts and culture, home affairs, sport and recreation, science and technology and women’s affairs.

The Economic and Technical Working Group on the other hand focuses its attention on investment co-operation, trade promotion, commerce exhibitions, customs, oil and petrochemical, transport, agriculture, housing, free trade zones, banking, electricity and mining.

South Africa’s participation in the meeting falls within its priority to strengthen bilateral political, economic and trade relations with Iran within the broad framework of South-South cooperation.

Bilateral Relations

South Africa and Iran share good historical bilateral relations and the latter supported the South African liberation movements. It severed official relations with South Africa in 1979 and imposed a trade boycott in protest against the country’s Apartheid policies.

However in January 1994, Iran lifted all trade and economic sanctions against South Africa and diplomatic relations were re-established on 10 May 1994.

Relations have expanded significantly since 1994 and the JBC offers an opportunity for a high-level review of bilateral relations, the consideration of ways in which these relations could be expanded further, as well as a forum for the discussion of major international, regional and multilateral developments. The 10th meeting of the JBC was held in Tehran in July 2008.

Economic Relations

South Africa and Iran share good trade relations with South African exports increasing by 7% from R1.4bn in 2006 to R1.5bn in 2007 and imports from Iran, mostly crude oil, increasing by 13.5% from R18.3bn in 2006 to R20.8bn in 2007.

Several South African companies are involved in major projects in Iran. Sasol is participating in a US$900-million Iranian polymer joint venture with the Iranian state-owned petrochemicals company, Pars Petrochemicals Company, which produces ethylene as well as high- and low-density poly-ethylene. The joint venture is known as the Arya Sasol Polymer Company.

MTN has a 49% stake in the Iran Cell consortium which was awarded the second mobile telecommunications license in Iran. It started operations in October 2006.

Iran was the largest supplier of crude oil to South Africa in 2007.

Issued by Nomfanelo Kota on 082 4593787

Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152

12 January 2009

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