Media Statement Minister Nkoana-Mashabane’s Working Visit to the Russian Federation – 13-15 July 2010

PRETORIA - The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane will arrive in Moscow (Russia) today on a two-day working visit. In the two days that she will spend in the Russian Federation, the Minister will interact with her counterpart, Minister Sergey Lavrov and discuss a wide-range of issues that define South Africa-Russia bilateral relations. She will also hold bilateral discussions with the Minister of Natural Resources, Mr Yuri Trutnev, in their shared capacities as Co-Chairs of the Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade and Cooperation (ITEC).

South Africa considers the Russian Federation as an important strategic partner in the promotion of development, socio-economic and political progress as well as stability in the globalizing world. In the multilateral arena, both countries support the promotion of equal distribution of power and influence in the global political and economic systems, with a shared belief in rules-based multilateralism; the primacy of the UN in global security matters; sustainable development; free and fair trade; and an equitable international economic order.

The Russian Federation boasts a population of 140 million and is the 12th largest economy in the world by nominal value and the 7th largest by purchasing power parity (PPP). The country has highly skilled people in science and technology, as well as an abundance of natural resources including oil, gas, coal, and other precious metals, and is equally rich in agriculture. Russia has proven to be a powerful player on the global political and economic stage. By virtue of its membership of the UN Security Council’s Permanent 5; of the Group of Eight most industrialized countries; and a member of the Group of Twenty, it holds a great deal of political power in the multilateral forum. There is therefore no denying the fact that Russia’s role influencing and shaping positions in international affairs, the international political economy and energy politics is increasingly being recognized.

Minister Nkoana-Mashabane’s working visit will seek to secure some form of commitment from the Russians on how to further strengthen and broaden commercial relations; facilitate education and skills development partnerships; strengthen Russian partnership on the African Agenda; and last but not least strengthen partnership and cooperation on multilateral issues.

In view of a scheduled Presidential Visit to Russia in early August, Minister Nkoana-Mashabane will also seek to fast-track agreement from the Russian Federation’s agreement on the three crucial Draft Agreements, such as the Agreement on the Promotion of Aviation Safety; the Agreement on Cooperation in the Field of Plant Quarantine; and the MoU on Cooperation in Space Science and Technology.

Existing and future areas of cooperation between South Africa-Russia include trade and investment, with emphasis on high value added products and high technology areas of cooperation; science and technology for development, including harnessing the contribution of knowledge generation and innovation; minerals, especially mineral resources management; combating crime and cooperation in the field of Justice, with efforts mainly focused on cooperation in combating organized crime; education and training, with a future focus to be on mutual recognition and comparability of qualifications, and exchange of students and academic staff; and last but not least, defense and military-industrial cooperation.

Despite the global economic crisis, overall trade between South Africa and the Russian Federation increased from US$484,02 million in 2008 to US$517,21 million in 2009. (These figures are based on the Annual Reports of 2009 by the Federal Customs Service in the Russian Federation). Naturally these figures do not include trade done through third countries. Our belief is that our business community has to consider several business opportunities in energy, ICT, infrastructure and agribusiness; including identifying economic complementarities and areas of cooperation. 

For more information, please contact Mr Mahlatse Mminele on 082-8899-432 or on his e-mail address:

Issued by:
Department of International Relations and Cooperation
OR Tambo Building
Branch: Public Diplomacy
Private Bag X 152

13 July 2010

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