Press release on South Africa-France Forum for Political Dialogue held on 2 and 3 February 2012
The Director-General: International Relations and Cooperation, Ambassador Jerry Matjila, hosted his French counterpart, the Secretary-General of Foreign and European Affairs, Ambassador Pierre Sellal, on 2 and 3 February 2012 for the annual session of the South Africa-France Forum for Political Dialogue at the Johnny Makatini Diplomatic Guesthouse in Pretoria.
The South Africa-France Forum for Political Dialogue (FPD) is the primary formal mechanism for the coordination of relations between the two countries. Its annual meeting is presided over jointly by the Director-General and the French Secretary-General, and also consists of senior officials responsible for the main areas of discussion.
It is inter alia underpinned by the two countries sharing a fundamental commitment to promoting peace, security, stability, prosperity and democracy on the continent of Africa, in the realisation that the success or failure of Africa cannot be divorced from the success or failure of Europe, or indeed the world.
The two day meeting was preceded by preparatory meetings between expert officials on UN issues, human rights and development cooperation.
The two Directors-General discussed in plenary among other issues the following: The further strengthening and deepening of bilateral political and economic relations; increased development cooperation; developments on the continent of Africa; and issues of global governance such as the reform of the UN Security Council and international financial institutions. Views were also exchanged on other matters of mutual concern, including developments in the Middle East.
France is a major trading and development cooperation partner and source of tourism for South Africa. Total trade increased consistently from R11,4 billion in 2000 to R31,2 billion in 2008 before it suffered a significant decline in 2009 due to the global economic downturn. Total trade between the two countries improved slightly to about R27,5 billion in 2010 with a significant surplus in France’s favour. One of the objectives of the Forum for Political Dialogue is to consider ways and means of not only strengthening bilateral trade but ensuring that it is more balanced.
There are more than 170 French-owned companies or subsidiaries of French companies operating in South Africa accounting for 25 000 employment opportunities.
In strengthening South Africa-France relations the two Directors-General further discussed the cultural seasons that the two countries will present: France in South Africa in 2012, and then South Africa in France in 2013. While centered on cultural exchanges, the seasons will also include elements of promoting trade and investment, tourism, and cooperation in science and technology.
Enquiries: Mr Clayson Monyela, Spokesperson for the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, 082 884 5974.
Issued by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation
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