Press Statement: Bilateral meeting between the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa and the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Cape Town

13 February 2012

This morning, I am hosting my counterpart from the United Kingdom, Mr William Hague, on a bilateral meeting here in Cape Town. The meeting was convened to discuss a range of bilateral and multilateral issues.

These include progress within the context of the Bilateral Forum between South Africa and the United Kingdom as well as the South Africa-United Kingdom Strategy adopted at the last meeting of the Bilateral Forum in London in June 2011.

The strategy serves as a framework for the conduct of South Africa’s relations with the UK and has three pillars; namely (1) Sustainable Development, (2) Security, and (3) Governance and Civil Society.

Since the adoption of the strategy, concrete progress has been achieved in all three pillars of the Strategy.  As part of the Strategy, the UK is also providing valuable support in our pursuit to establish a Free Trade Area in Africa. 

South Africa and the United Kingdom have extensive trade and economic relations which continue to strengthen. Over the past 10 years, total trade between the United Kingdom and South Africa increased by 77, 4% from R42, 006 billion in 2001 to R74, 5 billion in 2008.

This was followed by a sharp decline in total trade from R74,5 billion in 2008 to R46, 9 billion in 2009 – a percentage decrease of 37% -- due to  a decreased global demand caused by the financial crisis.

However, trade between the two countries has improved in 2011, with an increase of 10,7% in exports to the United Kingdom and an increase in imports of 30,6% in the first 10 months.

The United Kingdom is also a significant source of foreign direct investment for South Africa while South African companies have in turn made large investments in the United Kingdom.

One of the principal focus points of our meeting is to further expand economic ties.  The doubling of trade by 2015 has been set as a target at the last meeting of the Bilateral Forum and remains an important objective within the context of the Strategy.  In achieving this objective, emphasis will be on improving exports of high-value added products from South Africa.

The United Kingdom is the leading source of overseas tourists to South Africa, i.e. excluding from African countries. The total number of tourists from the United Kingdom in 2010 was just above 453 000.  

An important area of co-operation between the two countries is development assistance, through the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID). 

The current DFID programme, valued at £76 million, runs from 2011 to 2015 and ties in directly with the five strategic objectives of the South African Government.  The programme provides support in the areas of jobs and promotion of economic growth, improved health care, climate change and addressing gender-based violence.

In conclusion, the Consolidation of the African Agenda remains the centre of the discussions with a focus on Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan, the DRC and Zimbabwe.  Furthermore, South Africa and the United Kingdom are evaluating the latest developments with respect to the Middle East and North Africa.

Thank you

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