Joint Communiqué of the 6th Session of the German - South African Binational Commission, Pretoria, 9 April 2010

The Sixth Session of the South Africa – Germany Binational Commission (BNC) took place at the Union Building in Pretoria, South Africa on 9 April 2010.

The Session was co-chaired by the Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa, Kgalema Petros Motlanthe, and the Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister of the Federal Republic of Germany, Dr. Guido Westerwelle.


The Deputy President and the Vice Chancellor acting as co-chairmen of the Binational Commission had an extensive exchange of views on a range of bilateral and international issues, to which the German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development made substantial contributions.

During their political consultations, the principals concurred that since 1994 cooperation between the two nations has developed into a broad-based and intense partnership and that the BNC provides an efficient and adequate framework for further cooperation in the fields of the committees (Defence, Economy, Development Cooperation, Environment, Science & Research, Culture).

The principals agreed that - based on the excellent bilateral relations - cooperation should be further intensified, particularly in areas of regional and global interest, including peace and security issues on the African continent and worldwide

Both parties underlined the high priority accorded to their respective partner in their foreign relations and agreed that the political dialogue between them should further be strengthened, especially with a view on global themes, given the fact that both countries are members of the Group of 20 (G20) and both have presented their candidature for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council for the period 2011/12. The two sides furthermore reaffirmed their readiness to cooperate on the ongoing efforts aimed at reforming the UN Security Council.

They also agreed on the necessity of accelerating the transformation towards a Green Economy with the aim of creating more 'green jobs”, advancing the use of renewable energy and improving energy efficiency where cross-cutting issues dealt with by several sub-commissions. In this regard the South African side stressed the need for a transfer of technology and the interest in learning from best practices in Germany.

The Binational Commission, established in 1996, was considered to have stood the test of time, and seen as a model for others to follow, allowing to focus in a flexible manner on departmental cooperation across a very broad thematic spectrum. The two Co-Chairpersons particularly welcomed in this context the setting up of the new sub-commission on labour and social affairs, adding an important topic and further widening the scope of cooperation.

The Co-Chairpersons expressed their deep satisfaction about the amiable, effective and intense cooperation that has developed between the two countries in the run-up to the soccer world championship to be hosted by South Africa in June and July 2010. This close collaboration comprises government departments, the private sector as well as associations and non-governmental organizations. It covers a wide range of aspects, such as policy, technical and practical ones. The Co-Chairpersons highlighted in this context the extensive cooperation and exchange of experiences that took place between the South African and German police forces, as well as the civil defence and emergency services, where, to cite but an example, over 150 missions as well as seminars and visits were effected over the course of the past 2 years. They also took note of the German offer to extend this fruitful cooperation connecting the police and civil defence forces beyond the World Cup Soccer Event.

One aspect of the consultations was the briefing on the preparation of the Football World Cup 2010 in South Africa. Both sides expressed their sincere hope that the first World Cup on the African continent will be both an inspiring event and an outstanding success.

The Co-Chairpersons saluted the close practical cooperation in the political area, as exemplified by projects of trilateral cooperation in African countries between the South African National Treasury Department and the German Foreign Office, and welcomed plans to continue this successful cooperation. They also took note of the various links existing between the two ministries in the area of training and expertise.


The following are the summaries of the reports presented by the Joint Committees to the Binational Commission: 

  • Economy

At the 6th session of the Economic Committee, both Germany and South Africa underscored at the outset that they have been adversely affected by the global financial and economic crisis and that this had caused a drastic contraction in bilateral trade during the past year. Both sides emphasised the necessity of ramping up efforts to boost sustainable growth, in order to establish the conditions for flourishing trade in goods and services. Furthermore, they informed each other of the national measures that each country had taken so far to overcome the effects of the global crisis.

While bilateral trade and economic relations between Germany and South Africa developed very positively in the last five years till 2008 (in 2008, Germany’s trade with South Africa rose to € 12.6 billion, an increase of 11.6% compared to 2007), bilateral trade plummeted by 24% to € 9.6 billion in 2009. Nevertheless, both sides confirmed that South Africa remains Germany’s most important trading partner on the African continent. South Africa pointed out that over the years it has been facing a growing deficit in its trade with Germany, however, this is partly compensated by tourism, services and investment. The two sides agreed to collaborate in efforts to boost SA’s exports to Germany, particularly the high value added share of these exports.

South Africa gave a presentation of the second Industrial Policy Action Plan – IPAP 2. The Action Plan is aimed at encouraging industrialisation and diversification of the economy towards value added production and exports with high focus on labour absorption and regional development.
South Africa asked the German side to encourage German companies to take advantage of the opportunities presented in the Industrial Action Plan.

The German side welcomed the presentation and indicated its willingness to share information on IPAP 2 with German companies.

The German side raised questions about the price of electricity in South African and enquired whether there would be differentiation in pricing for various sectors of the economy. The South African side informed about the investments and efforts that were being made to stabilise supply of conventional energy, in the field of renewable energy (including wind and solar power, biogas and bio-fuel), and in initiatives to enhance energy efficiency.

The two sides agreed to continue exchanges views and information in this area.
In this connection, the German committee members welcomed the adoption of the Automotive Production Development Programme (APDP), which will improve upon and replace the Motor Industrial Development Programme (MIDP). The adoption of this programme and the certainty it has created has seen new investments by German companies in the automotive sector.

South Africa gave a briefing on developments in BEE Policy implementation. In the area of BEE policies, several developments have occurred since the 2006 BNC. Codes of Good Practice and several sector charters have been gazetted, verification framework has been finalized, and the Presidential BEE Council aimed at reviewing the impact of BEE policies has been established. The Equity Equivalent Investment Programme application processes has been streamlined and refined. The German side asked that the special situation of small and medium-sized companies be kept in mind. The South African side declared its willingness to discuss any difficulties that German companies might have with conforming the policy.

Both sides view tourism as a key economic factor with major potential that can contribute to higher growth, job creation and retention, and the elimination of poverty. South Africa anticipates that the 2010 World Cup will provide fresh impetus for growth in its tourism sector. Both sides will encourage companies in the tourism sector to further expand bilateral cooperation.

The German side also raised various questions dealing with CO2 tax, employment equity, power tariff and securing access to raw materials. The dti acknowledged the issues raised and indicated that the issues would be referred to the relevant departments.

The South African side described the progress that has been made in efforts to attract investment and highlighted plans to provide incentives programmes that are applicable to various sectors. In this connection, the South African side indicated interest in cooperating with the German side on skills development and training as part of efforts to overcome skills constraints facing the SA economy. The German side confirmed that training and skills development were key priorities for German investors. The two sides agreed to collaborate and to coordinate with the view to deepening cooperation in the area of skills development and training.

The two sides discussed the state of play in the Doha Development Round. In this regard, the South African side expressed its view that any outcome of the Round needs to be balanced and development oriented. The German side expressed regret over the failure so far to achieve an accord in the WTO Doha Round, a situation which could have negative consequences for the global economy and the international trade regime. Both Germany and South Africa will advocate the resumption of negotiations and the conclusion of the Round.

The two delegations also discussed the state of play in the EU-SADC Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). Both sides presented their views on the challenges posed by the outcomes of the EPAs.  Both delegations expressed their interest and willingness to support continuing negotiations towards a comprehensive EU-SADC EPA. 

  • Social and Labour Affairs  

This Binational Commission sees a new Sub-Committee being launched, the Committee on "Labour and Social Affairs". With the launching of this Sub-Committee "Labour and Social Affairs" in the framework of the German-South African Binational Consultations the bilateral cooperation between the countries reaches a new level, in terms of quality and of permanence and sustainability in this field. During a high-level visit of a South-African mission to Germany, which will be lead by Mr. Jimmy Manyi, Director-General of Labour, this work will be accentuated.

The German-South African relations in the field of labour have been meaningful and dynamic since long. Both countries aim at realising the constitutional principles of social justice in the field of labour, in the employment sector and at the work place. Specific mention deserves the Joint Memorandum of Understanding that was signed by the Ministers of both countries in September 2009. With the visit of the South African delegation the general intent of the agreement already materialises. The group will study the German labour market policies, especially public employment services including job placement and vocational guidance and short-time work. Both countries shall consider further deepening the cooperation in these fields.

Moreover, also within the framework of the existing cooperation, the Sub-Committee of Labour and Social Affairs to the Binational Commission will deal with the following issues, which shall be further intensified during the upcoming session in Berlin on April 12, 2010:

  • unemployment insurance,
  • occupational health and safety.

Further cooperation in these areas shall be considered and proposed by the committee. The committee shall be encouraged to propose further areas of cooperation if the need or interest arises.

Both parties understand the establishment of the Sub- Committee of Labour and Social Affairs as one step in the right direction that is in line with the growing prominence of labour and social matters in international relations, binationally and multinationally.

  • Environment 

South Africa and Germany have been cooperating on environmental issues for many years, inter alia through projects supported by the International Climate Initiative of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment.

Both parties intend to strengthen and enhance this environmental cooperation in the following areas:

  • Green growth and green jobs
  • Design and implementation of national actions for the transition to a low carbon economy.
  • Renewable energy and energy efficiency.
  • Climate change mitigation and adaptation policies and demonstration programmes

The German Federal Environment Ministry intends to continue its support for projects in South Africa in particular concerning the above mentioned areas, inter alia through its International Climate Initiative. In the context of the strategic environmental dialogue of both countries the two sides will explore the opportunity of hosting a high-level bilateral environmental dialogue which would include German and South African private sector.

Both parties stressed the importance of keeping global warming below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and underlined the need to continue to work towards an ambitious, legally binding agreement with an outcome under the Kyoto Protocol on further commitments by Annex I Parties for the 2nd and subsequent commitment periods and an outcome of the negotiations under the Convention track. Furthermore they noted that the Copenhagen Accord represents a political agreement on many difficult issues in the negotiations and should give direction and impetus to the negotiations leading up to a full multilateral agreement under the UNFCCC.

  • Science and Technology  

The Department of Science and Technology of South Africa and the Ministry of Education and Research of the Federal Republic of Germany held a Joint Committee meeting on 08 April 2010 at the margins of the BNC in South Africa to review the work done and discuss the future advancement of the science, technology and innovation cooperation between the two countries.

The two science and technology Ministers have in the recent past visited each other’s countries and held high level discussions which led to advancement and deepening of the relations.

The level of cooperation has indeed increased over a period of fourteen years since the collaboration agreement was signed in 1996. At least one hundred and fifty (150) enabling measures and / or research projects have been co-funded by Germany and South Africa.

The last two years in particular have seen an intensification of these enabling measures and / or research projects on science and technology cooperation. There are currently approximately 30 new projects per year, which form the basis of numerous new large-scale collaborations. Current topics of cooperation include marine research, biodiversity, geosciences as well as environmental research (including water, energy and climate change).

The DST welcomed an offer from the BMBF to support the establishment of a Regional Science Service Centre (RSSC) that would assist activities and decision-making on the multiple challenges of climate change, water security, and sustainable land management in the Southern African region. The BMBF acknowledged the related human capacity and infrastructure being developed by the DST as part of its 10-year Global Change grand challenge and thanked South Africa for the preparedness to leverage support for the RSSC.

The DST and BMBF also finalised the next steps for a number of ongoing collaborative projects, e.g. “Land Management” and “The Science Partnership for the Assessment of Coastal and Earth System Processes” in the area of climate change and environment.

Following agreement in 2008, the second South Africa-German Science for Sustainability Dialogue was successfully held in South Africa in October 2009 taking forward discussions started during the inaugural dialogue session hosted in Germany in June 2008. The representatives of the Joint Committee endorsed the commitment to continue the dialogue for three more years and to identify topics of mutual interest that will enhance the respective National Systems of Innovation (NSI) to deal with the urgent issue of sustainable development.

The Joint Committee agreed on the importance of the regional initiatives with a view to improve infrastructure, integrate scientific projects and develop human capacity. Future initiatives will contribute to regional solutions of global significance. For this reason, the Joint Committee agreed on funding by both ministries.

BMBF and DST support initiatives in the Technology Transfer Capacity Development Program which should be performed in collaboration with other countries of Southern Africa.

The following priorities have been identified for the 2010/11 Science and Technology call for proposals:

  • Environmental research issues
  • Biotechnology, and
  • Nanotechnology

The Joint Committee discussed a possibility of establishing a joint fund to support future research projects. In addition, existing and new initiatives of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) will be promoted in South Africa.

The Joint Committee further agreed on publishing a booklet in 2011 to commemorate 15 years of cooperation between the two countries. Both parties acknowledged the progress and advancement of this collaboration and expressed an intention of deepening the relationship.

  • Culture   

In pursuance of the Agreement concerning Cultural Cooperation between the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Government of the Republic of South Africa signed on 10th March 1998, the third German-South African Cultural Consultations were held at the Department of Arts and Culture in Pretoria on 8 April 2010.

The productive consultations were characterized by an atmosphere of mutual understanding and cooperation stemming from the long tradition of intensive cultural and educational cooperation both sides have enjoyed. The discussions provided further opportunity to review the following areas of bilateral cultural cooperation and lay a viable foundation for the interest-oriented and demand-based promotion of the following areas:

  • cooperation on language and cultural programmes,
  • exchanges in the fields of the performing arts, visual arts, film, literature and capacity building in certain areas,
  • cooperation on the preservation of the cultural heritage (archives, museums and libraries),
  • programmes related to the youth,
  • cooperation in connection with the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
  • trilateral partnerships

A cultural cooperation working group will be established to monitor and co-ordinate implementation of the Agreement and these agreed minutes.

  • Development Cooperation

Negotiations on development cooperation between the Government of the Republic of South Africa and the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany were held in Pretoria on 8 - 9 April 2010. The delegation of the Republic of South Africa was headed by Mr. Robin Toli, Chief Director of the International Development Cooperation at the National Treasury. The delegation of the Federal Republic of Germany was headed by Mr. Thomas Albert, Director, and Commissioner for Africa at the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Both sides stressed the particular importance of the present government negotiations and emphasised the upcoming event of the Soccer World Cup 2010 as a unique opportunity to advertise the rich potential of cooperation with the emerging economies of the continent of Africa and of South Africa in particular.

Both sides agreed that development cooperation has been very successful in shaping the relationship between South Africa and Germany over the past few years and recalled that German development cooperation is fully aligned with South Africa’s policies and priorities.

The total volume of bilateral Technical and Financial Cooperation since cooperation began in 1992 amounts to €515 million. The Government of the Federal Republic of Germany undertakes to increase the total amount and to provide the Government of the Republic of South Africa with a new amount of €112.5 million for bilateral Technical and Financial Cooperation for the period of 2010 - 2011. This comprises €84.0 million for Financial Cooperation (of which Euro 64.0 million is in concessionary loans and Euro 20.0 million in grant) and €28.5 million for Technical Cooperation. In addition, €8.3 million investment is available from reprogrammed commitments of earlier years.
The delegations reached agreement on the allocation of the funds available. They discussed ongoing and future cooperation and other relevant issues.

The most prominent area of cooperation in this year’s government negotiations is the field of renewable energy and energy efficiency. New commitments of low-interest loans and technical assistance exceed €75 million. This area provides great potential for enhanced cooperation between South African and German businesses.

The second focal area is the strengthening of local governance and improvement of public service delivery. To this end Germany supports the efforts of its South African partners with a contribution of €15 million over the next two years.

For the fight against HIV/Aid, the Federal Republic has made available grants to the value of €20 million.

An additional contribution is made to the area of vocational training, specifically to skills development, innovation and technology transfer as well as support to employment services.
This result of the government negotiations is a fitting response to the challenges of our times and underscores the importance of South Africa as an example to the entire continent. The main points for further economic and social development were jointly identified.

  • Defence

 The close defence relations between RSA and GER over the last decades have not only been highlighted by numerous successful training exchanges benefiting landward, air, maritime and medical services.

Moreover, Germany GER Navy and Air Forces assets deployed to RSA operate jointly with the South African partners under the exercise series Good Hope which has since its beginning in 2000 widened its scale and gained more operational depth. The fourth exercise has successfully been completed in March 2010.

Our dynamic military cooperation based on mutual and common understanding, establishes a high degree of procedural and operational interoperability.

Furthermore, the politico-military cooperation between RSA and GER could serve as a basis to strengthen SADC’s regional standby capabilities for Peace-keeping operations.
The RSA and the GER MoDs are looking forward to conducting the twelfth RSA-GER Defence Committee in May in Berlin.  


The German delegation invited their South African counterparts to Berlin for the next meeting of the German-South African Binational Commission.

Pretoria, April 09, 2010


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