Progress made by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation in achieving its commitment to consolidate and strengthen bilateral political and social relations through utilising structured bilateral mechanisms and high level engagements to pursue national priorities
NATIONAL COUNCIL OF PROVINCES
FOR ORAL REPLY
QUESTION NO: 15 (CO37E) AS APPEARED IN INTERNAL QUESTION PAPER 1-2014 OF 11 MARCH 2014
Ms D Z Rantho (ANC-EC) to ask the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation:
(1) Whether her department has made any progress in achieving its commitment to consolidate and strengthen bilateral political and social relations through utilising structured bilateral mechanisms and high level engagements to pursue national priorities; if not, (a) why not, (b) what are her department’s plans in this regard; if so, (i) what progress has been made, (ii) what are the details of the (aa) structured bilateral mechanisms and (bb) high level engagements and (iii) what are the further relevant details?
(1) Yes, South Africa enjoys warm and cordial relations with all the regions and countries of the world and this is evident in the 83 established structured bilateral mechanisms and numerous high-level engagements which DIRCO utilizes to promote and advance South Africa's national interest.
(i) Significant progress has been made in our bilateral relations with countries since the advent of South Africa’s democracy. This is reflective in the number of agreements signed and the implementation thereof, which govern the composition of the structured bilateral mechanisms. Many of South Africa’s relations are performed through well-structured bilateral mechanisms, which seek to augment cooperation between South Africa and a specific country. DIRCO’s engagements through these bilateral mechanisms has resulted in cooperation in the fields of the African Agenda, economic diplomacy, the exchange of technology, capacity-building and infrastructure programmes, as well as cooperation in the multilateral field.
(ii) Structured Bilateral Mechanisms reflect the various regularised and formalised meetings that South Africa has with other countries. These meetings, usually under various designations such as Bi-national Commissions, Joint Commissions, Partnership Forums, Policy Dialogue Forums and Policy Forums are co-chaired from the President downwards to the level of senior officials. These bilateral mechanisms usually comprise sub-committees or technical committees and are co-chaired by the Ministers and senior officials of the departments concerned. The meetings usually alternate between the countries concerned and can take place every six months, annually and in certain cases every two years, depending on the importance of the issues on the agenda which varies from matters regarding global governance, Africa, strengthening trade and investment, tourism promotion and science and technology cooperation. High-level engagements is designated at the level of Minister and above with the purpose of deepening the political, trade, social, financial, economic and security relationship and interactions between South Africa and another state.