Media Statement: South Africa-Argentina Bi-National Commission Seminar in Buenos Aires on 09-10 November 2011

Today, 09 November 2011, the South African Embassy in Argentina, in collaboration with the Argentine Ministry of Foreign Relations, International Trade and Worship, the South African Department of Trade and Industry, and Standard Bank Argentina, commenced with the proceedings of the fourth bilateral seminar in Buenos Aires in support of the South Africa-Argentina Bi-National Commission, which scheduled to end on 10 November 2011.

The two-day seminar is being held under the theme:  “South Africa and Argentina: Gateway countries to Continental opportunities” and was opened by Ministers of both countries, i.e. Minister Hector Timerman, the Argentine Minister of Foreign Relations, International Trade and Worship, and Minister Rob Davies, the South African Minister of Trade and Industry. The seminar will attract speakers of both countries from various sectors (such as business persons, NGOs, academics, government officials, etc.) and is divided into four clusters, i.e. (a) Economic, (b) Political and Diplomatic, (c) Educational and Cultural, and (d) Human Rights Clusters.

When we were at the conceptualisation of the seminar, the “Gateway” concept struck us as a useful envelope in which to enclose the two countries’ bilateral relationship and to project its forward momentum.  This is both a consequence of shared geography, a common approach to the issues of development and democratisation, global governance and reform and similar challenges in deepening and consolidating democratic practices, given that our recent and separate emergence from the shadow of authoritarianism happened within seven years of each other. Economically, both countries’ gross domestic products are at the same level of over USD350 billion and both countries share many complementarities that have great potential to improve the lives of both peoples. For example South Africa has unquestionable expertise in the mining technologies that Argentina’s mining industry can use, while on the other hand Argentina is one of the leading countries in the area of agricultural technology and food security, which South Africa can use in order to respond to the country’s food security objectives.

The two countries’ bilateral trade is over USD2 billion and the full ratification of the signed (in 2008) SACU-MERCOSUR Preferential Trade Agreement will certainly give impetus to the trade and investment opportunities that exist between the two countries and their regions. When opening the seminar both Ministers also concurred that there was an urgent need to fully ratify this agreement especially that the global economy has been showing important signs of shifting global trade trends to the South.

The first day of the seminar will see various major Argentine and South African companies presenting their stories on how they have managed to successfully participate in their continent economies and the wider world. Some entities with South African origin that will participate on the first day of the seminar include among others, Standard Bank, SABMiller, AngloGold Ashanti, Blue Label Telecoms and others. BUSA will also participate in the Seminar.

The second day of the seminar will focus on the Political, Educational and Cultural, and Human Rights Clusters with various entities from South Africa participating, such as the University of Pretoria, University of South Africa, the National Prosecuting Authority’s Task Team of Missing Persons and others.

The two-day seminar will also serve to launch a pioneering book by one of the eminent Argentine African scholars, Professor Gladys Lechini from the National University of Rosario, entitled: “Argentina and South Africa: Facing the Challenges of the 21st Century-Brazil as Mirror Image”. This a first ever piece of work ever produced about the evolution of the two countries’ bilateral relationship and it will certainly serve as a reference point for many interlocutors interested in the advancement of the two countries’ bilateral relationship.

The outcomes of this seminar will be presented to the two countries’ Foreign Ministers Meeting of the Bi-National Commission (as Chairs of this annual BNC) scheduled to take place in South Africa in 2012.

For further information please contact Mr Clayson Monyela, Spokesperson for DIRCO, on 082 884 5974


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09 November 2011
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