25 April 2016
South Africa and Iran sign landmark agreements to boost economic and trade relations
The State Visit of President Jacob Zuma to the Islamic Republic of Iran has ended on a high note with the signing of several agreements and commitments being made by both sides to take economic and trade relations to greater heights following the lifting of sanctions in Iran.
President Zuma has undertaken the State Visit to Iran on 24-25 April. The visit began with the official talks and signing of agreements as well as interaction with the South Africa-Iran Business Forum on 24 April. Today, 25 April, President Zuma was taken on a tour of cultural sites in Isfahan, as part of promoting greater understanding, people to people cooperation and tourism between the two countries.
President Zuma is upbeat about his discussions with President Hasan Rouhani. Whilst in Tehran, the President also paid a courtesy call to Iran’s Supreme Spiritual Leader, the Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
South Africa views the Islamic Republic of Iran as a strategic trading partner within the Middle East and Central Asian regions. In the bilateral sphere, South Africa and Iran share a long historical relationship, with Iran having stood with and supported the struggle for liberation in South Africa. South Africa has also stood with Iran in the face of unilaterally imposed sanctions.
While the countries have maintained good relations over the years, total trade has unfortunately been falling over the past decade owing to, amongst others, the non-existence of banking relations between South Africa and the Islamic Republic of Iran and the various sanctions imposed by the West. As of 2015, total trade between the two countries stood at three hundred and fifty eight million rands (R358 million). President Zuma stressed that this figure does not reflect the optimal capabilities of the two economies.
The two Presidents undertook to take cooperation to a higher level in the fields of trade, education and skills development; science and technology; energy, including petrochemical gas exploration and refining capacity; agriculture; mining and mineral beneficiation; infrastructure development and transport; finance, banking and insurance and tourism.
President Zuma and President Rouhani witnessed the signing of the following agreements;
- Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the field of Trade and Industry;
- Memorandum of Understanding on the Establishment of an Investment Joint Committee;
- Memorandum of Understanding on Agricultural Cooperation;
- Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the field of Water Resources Management;
- Programme of Cooperation in the fields of Arts, Culture and Heritage for the Years 2016 – 2019;
- Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation between Petroleum Oil and Gas Corporation of South Africa (PETROSA) and the Research Institute of Petroleum Industry (RIPI);
- Memorandum of Understanding between the Financial Intelligence Unit of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Financial Intelligence Centre of the Republic of South Africa concerning cooperation in the exchange of Information related to Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing.
- Memorandum of Understanding on Insurance Cooperation between Bimeh Markazi Iran (Central Insurance of the Islamic Republic of Iran) and Financial Services Board of South Africa.
President Zuma and President Rouhani also discussed developments in the Middle East region including in Iraq, Yemen and Syria, while emphasizing the need for dialogue and a political solution to the ongoing crises in these countries.
The regional and global threat of terrorism was also discussed and the two leaders agreed to strengthen intelligence cooperation on strategic regional security and stability issues to combat international terrorism in particular.
On the international front, the two leaders agreed to intensify the call for the reform of the United Nations especially the UN Security Council, as the interests of the developing world need to be protected.
President Rouhani has accepted an invitation from President Zuma to undertake a State Visit to South Africa.
President Zuma was accompanied by Ms Nomaindiya Mfeketo, Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation; Dr Rob Davies, Minister of Trade and Industry; Mr Pravin Gordhan, Minister of Finance; Mr Ebrahim Patel, Minister of Economic Development; Ms Tina Joemat-Pettersson, Minister of Energy; and Ms Nomvula Mokonyane, Minister of Water Affairs and Sanitation.
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Issued by: The Presidency