Deputy Minister Ebrahim arrived in Berne for the 3rd Annual SA – Swiss High Level Consultations

International Relations and Cooperation Deputy Minister Ebrahim Ismail Ebrahim has, today Monday, 14 March 2011 arrived in Switzerland where he will co-chair with his Swiss counterpart, State Secretary Peter Maurer, the South Africa-Switzerland (SA-SWISS) 3rd Annual High Level Consultations (HLC) scheduled for Tuesday, 15 March 2011.

Deputy Minister Ebrahim is leading a South African government delegation comprising of the Departments of International Relations and Cooperation; Science and Technology; Justice and the National Treasury. Deputy Minister Ebrahim was welcomed into the country by the South African Ambassador to Switzerland Mr. George Johannes.

This session of the HLC takes place within the context of consolidating North-South relations in terms of South Africa’s priority to strengthen bilateral political, economic and trade relations with Switzerland.

This years’ HLC will outline the importance of bilateral relations between SA and Switzerland. It will also highlight issues concerning multilateral engagements and issues of global nature. 

The visit by Deputy Minister Ebrahim will cover amongst others:

  • Promotion of the African Agenda as a cornerstone of South Africa’s Foreign Policy;
  • Work with Switzerland towards strengthening the United Nations Security Council, deepening the reform of the United Nations, and promoting South Africa’s foreign policy objectives on reform of the global governance system;
  • Further strengthen cooperation on science and technology following the signing of an Agreement on Scientific and Technological Cooperation in December 2007;
  • Consolidate and  strengthen diplomatic relations that exist between South Africa and the Swiss Confederation with specific emphasis on the National Priorities; and
  • Broaden and deepen economic relations, especially increased direct investment.

Relations between South Africa and Switzerland are very good and are based upon growing bilateral and economic ties. Relations have since 1998 been regulated by a Joint Working Group, established after  a Declaration of Intent on Joint Activities was signed  during the State Visit of President Flavio Cotti to South Africa in August 1998. In recent years many bilateral engagements have taken place at a higher level, providing excellent opportunities to discuss relations between the two countries. The first High Level Consultations under the newly-signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) (which replaced the Joint Working Group) took place on 28 May 2008 in Bern.

Trade between South Africa and Switzerland has been increasing over the years. Total trade increased by approximately R16,586 billion from R11,044 billion in 2005 to R27,630 billion in 2009, representing an increase of over 150%. Exports from South Africa to Switzerland were valued at R21,3 billion in 2009 compared to imports valued at only R6,3 billion in the same year. This resulted in a balance of trade surplus for South Africa of about R15,1 billion in 2009. South Africa has been enjoying a positive balance of trade surplus with Switzerland since 2001.

The HLC comprises of four committees from various departments, namely Science and Technology, Water and Environmental Affairs, Treasury as well as the Department of Trade and Industry. There are other departments that have signed agreements with the Swiss government but are not yet formally part of the HLC.

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

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

OR Tambo Building
Private Bag X 152
Pretoria
0001

14 March 2011

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