Joint Communiqué of the 13th Joint Commission between the Republic of South Africa and the Islamic Republic of Iran held in Pretoria on 23 October 2017 (corresponding to 1 Aban 1396)

1. At the invitation of Her Excellency, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa, His Excellency, Dr Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran, paid an official visit to the Republic of South Africa on 23 October 2017 (corresponding to 1 Aban 1396) in order to co-chair the 13th Meeting of the Joint Commission as well as conduct bilateral discussions.

2. His Excellency, Dr Mohammad Javad Zarif also paid a courtesy call on His Excellency, Mr Jacob Zuma, the President of the Republic of South Africa. 

3. Members of the Iranian delegation engaged with their South African counterparts in technical discussions in their respective working groups, 20 – 22 October 2017.

4. In their opening remarks at the Joint Commission, both Ministers expressed their satisfaction at the good relationship that exists between the Republic of South Africa and Iran, as well as the efforts made since the 12th Joint Commission held in Tehran, 10 – 11 May 2015 (corresponding to 20 – 21 Ordibehesht 1394), to further strengthen political, economic and cultural cooperation between the two countries. Both Ministers expressed the desire to further enhance the sound relationship between the two countries.

5. The Ministers reviewed the decisions of the 12th Meeting of the Joint Commission and expressed their satisfaction at the progress achieved. They also recommitted to further advance the cooperation in the respective sectors for the mutual benefit of both countries.

6. It was also recognised that the Deputy Ministerial Working Group was functioning at a highly effective rate and had contributed significantly to the good relations and interaction that exist between the Republic of South Africa and the Islamic Republic of Iran. It was noted that the 6th, 7th and 8th Deputy Ministerial Working Group meetings had taken place since the 12th Joint Commission. This regular interaction should continue with the 9th working group to be held in Pretoria in 2018 to take forward the decisions emanating from the 13th Joint Commission.

7. Political and Social

7.1. Both Ministers held extensive exchange of views on the status of the bilateral relationship as well as on regional and international issues. They also took note of the regular meeting of the Deputy Ministerial Working Group (DMWG). They also endorsed the outcomes of discussions and exchanges of views and noted the positive impact of the (DMWG) on the Joint Commission.

7.2. The Ministers’ discussions focused on the following issues:

7.3. The Middle East

The two sides acknowledged the geo-political and economic significance of the Middle East to the region in relation to peace, security and development within the global community and concurred that in the absence of sustainable peace in the region there could be no global peace, stability and economic prosperity.  Views were exchanged on the situation in Palestine, Syria, Iraq and Yemen and the Iranian side provided an overview of the role that the Islamic Republic of Iran is playing to enhance peace, security and stability in the region. The Republic of South Africa expressed its appreciation for the positive role that the Islamic Republic of Iran is playing in the region.

7.3.1. Yemen

The two sides expressed deep concern on the continued destructive war against the people of Yemen and the spread of terrorism in the country. They also called for immediate cessation of hostilities and bloodshed and emphasised that negotiations for a peaceful and comprehensive settlement be reached through an inclusive Yemani-Yemani dialogue.

The two sides also expressed concern on the impact of the major humanitarian crisis and its negative consequences on the economic situation and the continued suffering of the people of the country. Both sides emphasised the need to urgently address the blockade and for the international community to significantly scale up its humanitarian assistance.                         

7.3.2. Syria:

The Islamic Republic of Iran and Republic of South Africa emphasised the need to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic. They took note of the tenacity and resistance of the people of Syria in fighting terrorism and terrorist groups. They also called on the international community as well as international organisations to act in a responsible manner and to work collectively within the ambit of the multilateral system in addressing the manifold challenges including the war on terrorism in all its forms.

The Islamic Republic of Iran and Republic of South Africa expressed their support on the political initiatives as well as the outcomes of the Astana and Geneva Talks for settling the Syrian crisis through inclusive Syria-Syria talks while condemning any foreign interference in the internal affairs of the country.

Both sides welcomed the liberation of Syrian territories previously held by terrorist groups. The two sides emphasized the need to provide adequate measures to address the plight of returning displaced persons and declared their readiness to support reconstruction efforts in Syria. 

7.3.3. Palestine:

The Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of South Africa condemned the continued illegal occupation and acts of aggression of the Israeli regime against the oppressed Palestinian people. They further deplored the recent accelerated expansion of illegal settlements in the Occupied Territories and the destruction of the holy sites of Muslims and Christians in the city of Quds and the continued blockade of the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip.

Furthermore, the two sides stressed the need to maintain security and stability in the Middle East, which is being undermined by the continued occupation of Palestinian territories and the aggressive actions of the Israeli regime. They also called on the international community to further strengthen their support for the legal and legitimate demands of the Palestinian people toward the establishment of an independent and viable Palestinian state.

7.3.4. Iraq:

Both sides stressed the need in ensuring an integrated, cohesive, sovereign and united Republic of Iraq, based on the country’s constitution, which guarantees and secures the interests of all religious and ethnic communities of Iraq. They support the efforts of the government of Iraq in fighting extremist, secessionist and separatist movements, which threaten the stability and security of Iraq, the region and beyond.

They noted and expressed concern at the recently held self-initiated referendum in the Iraqi Kurdistan region and see it as a threat to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country.

7.4. Africa

The South African side provided a detailed overview of recent developments in Africa and the role that the Republic of South Africa is playing to promote peace, stability and economic development of the Continent. It further provided a briefing on developments related to the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and its programme of implementation.

The Republic of South Africa also provided a briefing on its recently assumed role as the Chair of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and enunciated its role in utilising the opportunity to further advance regional integration and promoting peace and stability in the region.

Both sides agreed to explore cooperation between SADC and the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO). 

The Islamic Republic of Iran expressed its appreciation for the positive role that the Republic of South Africa is playing in the region and the Continent.

7.5. Implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Programme of Action (JCPOA)

Both sides stressed the critical importance of the JCPOA, as an outstanding achievement of contemporary multilateral diplomacy which is endorsed by the United Nations and incorporated as a part of Security Council Resolution 2231. They noted that the Islamic Republic of Iran has demonstrated utmost goodwill by fully implementing its commitments under the JCPOA. They called upon all JCPOA parties to uphold and fulfil their obligations in good faith and avoid any action which could jeopardize the smooth implementation of the JCPOA. It is noted that all member States are obliged under the UN Charter to support the implementation of the JCPOA as mandated by UNSCR 2231.

7.6. Multilateral

Both sides stressed their strong belief in multilateralism and the centrality of the United Nations including the Security Council in as essential in promoting effective and inclusive international cooperation in resolving the variety of the current global challenges including peaceful settlement of conflicts.

Both sides stressed the need for a comprehensive reform of the United Nations including the Security Council in order to make it more democratic, inclusive, transparent and effective that is accountable to all members.

7.7. Non-Aligned Movement (NAM)

While recalling the valuable principles and goals of the NAM, both sides reaffirm the necessity of active interaction among members of the NAM in order to further strengthen cooperation as well as promote the role and activities of the Movement for the mutual benefit of its members including cooperation in the settlement of regional and multilateral challenges.

7.8. World Against Violence and Extremism (WAVE): Countering terrorism and violent extremism

While noting the increasing threat of terrorism and extremism in the international arena, both sides called for active participation of all members of the international community to combat this ominous phenomenon. They noted that countering terrorism and extremism requires a comprehensive approach in order to address its root causes. Furthermore, both sides reaffirmed the central role of the United Nations in combating terrorism and extremism and emphasised the importance of strengthening effective initiatives, including “World Against Terrorism and Violent Extremism (WAVE)” which was initiated by HE Dr Hasan Rouhani, the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran at the 68th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations in 2013 and as adopted in General Assembly Resolution A/RES/70/109 in December 2015 and welcomed by all member states. 

7.9. Human Rights

Both sides have given consideration to the establishment of a structured dialogue forum or bilateral dialogue forum to collaborate on issues reflected below and other human rights related issues.

Both sides agreed on strengthening their bilateral and multilateral consultations on Human Rights in international fora, in particular at the United Nations in New York and Geneva. They further agreed to promote the role of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in pursuing the NAM Common position in the Human Rights Council on issues of high priorities for the NAM member States.

The two sides emphasized that since the UPR (Universal Periodic Review) is a universal non-discriminatory and cooperative mechanism based on equal treatment, objectivity, non-selectivity and non-politicisation of human Rights and also when Human Rights Council thematic mandate holders are in place, the selective country specific human rights resolutions are not only counter-productive but also further politicise the UN human rights mechanisms.

The two sides expressed their concern over the alarming increase of instances of racial discrimination and hatred in the world and urged all countries to genuinely implement the Durban Declaration and Plan of Action. The two sides further stressed that, despite the efforts made in this regard, millions of human beings continue to be victims of marginalization, racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in its various contemporary forms and manifestations.

7.10. Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA):

The two sides took note of the 17th Council of Ministers (COM) Meeting of the Indian Ocean Rim Association held in Durban on 18 October 2017. They welcomed the positive outcomes of the COM and the commitment to implement the Plan of Action. The Islamic Republic of Iran congratulated the Republic of South Africa on assuming the Chair of IORA and also expressed their congratulations on the election of Ambassador Dr Nomvuyo Nontsikelelo Nokwe as the next Secretary General of the IORA. Both sides agreed to work together to further strengthen the Association and implement the strategic priorities of the IORA.

7.11. BRICS

The Republic of South Africa provided an overview of the recently held BRICS Summit, 4 – 5 September in Xiamen, China and also informed that it will assume the Chairship of BRICS in January 2018 and will host the 10th BRICS Summit in the Republic of South Africa in 2018. The Islamic Republic of Iran congratulated the Republic of South Africa on the opening of the Africa Regional Centre in Johannesburg of the New Development Bank.

7.12. Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism

Both sides took note of the MOU on Arts and Culture and welcomed progress made in its implementation. They further noted that the MOU on Tourism is ready for signature and will be signed as soon as possible.

7.13. Health

Both sides took note of the progress in cooperation in the health sector following the signing of the agreement in 2014. Both sides expressed their readiness to finalise the protocol on joint cooperation in the field of pharmaceutical products and medical devices.

8. Agriculture

8.1. Both sides agreed on a revised implementation of the Work Plan on Agricultural Cooperation.

8.2. The draft agreement on Veterinary and Animal Health, which refers to market access for red meat, is still under consideration. The Republic of South Africa agreed to provide a formal response on the draft text by the end of November 2017.

8.3. The Republic of South Africa expressed readiness to resume exports of citrus fruits to the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Republic of South Africa undertook to submit a formal response regarding the draft text of the Agreement on Cooperation in the Field of Plant Protection and Quarantine as soon as possible.

8.4. The Republic of South Africa submitted a request for the export of Tilapia to the Islamic Republic of Iran through diplomatic channels for its consideration. The Republic of South Africa will also submit a formal proposal for the export of maize to the Islamic Republic of Iran.

9. Economic and Technical

9.1. The two sides reiterated their decisions made at the Joint Technical Meeting held in July 2017, during which they reflected on the current bilateral relations, the improvements to be made and the need to continue intensifying discussions around advancing bilateral trade and investment. Towards this end, both sides agreed to continue working towards fostering collaboration in the following areas:

  • Enhancing trade and investment cooperation in sectors including agro-processing, fisheries, aquaculture, pharmaceuticals, infrastructure (including tourism infrastructure development), minerals beneficiations, water desalination, financial services and energy, amongst others;
  • Developing infrastructure for growing trade and investment;
  • Identifying and resolving trade impediments;
  • Collaborating in skills and technology transfer.

9.2. Both sides have successfully concluded an MOU on Export Credits and Guarantees, which will be signed by the Export Credit Insurance Corporation of South Africa and the Export Guarantee Fund of Iran (EGFI).

9.3. Both sides recognized the need for a formal private sector structure which would advance the interests of the respective business communities from the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of South Africa. The process of electing a new Co-Chair from both sides is under consideration. Both sides agreed to inform each other of the Co-Chairs and the nominees to serve on the Council timeously.

9.4. The two sides agreed to promote trade relations and economic co-operation by participating in their respective trade exhibitions, through the introduction of their products as well as trade missions and investment seminars.

9.5. The South African side will be undertaking another focused mission to the Islamic Republic of Iran in early 2018 and invites the Iranian side to reciprocate.

9.6. The Islamic Republic of Iran’s Small Industries and Industrial Parks Organization (ISIPO) expressed its readiness to share its experience and knowledge on the establishment and development of industrial parks, technology parks and workshops with relevant South African entities.

9.7. The Republic of South Africa expressed its support for the Islamic Republic of Iran’s accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO). 

9.8. Joint Investment Committee (JIC)

9.8.1. Both sides welcomed the launch of the Joint Investment Committee and took note of its inaugural meeting held on 20 October 2017 in Pretoria. They agreed to establish the following five working groups:

i. Mining and Manufacturing
ii. Infrastructure
iii. Agriculture and Agro-processing
iv. Financial Services, Banking and other services
v. Tourism and Hospitality

9.8.2. Both sides welcomed the decision to host the first investment forum in Tehran in 2018.

9.9. Cooperation on Standardisation, conformity assessment; quality and safety of import and export commodities

The Institute of Standards and Industrial Research of Iran (ISIRI) submitted their draft MOU on Standardisation, Conformity Assessment, Legal Metrology, quality and safety of import and export commodities to the Department of Trade and Industry of the Republic of South Africa (the dti). Both sides agreed to finalise the MOU as soon as possible. 

9.10. Cooperatives

9.10.1. Both sides agreed on the text on the MOU on Cooperatives and expressed their desire to sign the MOU as soon as possible.

9.10.2. Both sides agreed to finalise the MOU on Cooperation on Technical and Vocational Training.

9.11. Transport

Both sides noted progress made in exploring cooperation in the maritime, port, rail and air transportation sectors and urged further collaboration in these areas.  

9.12. Mining

Both sides announced their readiness to sign the MOU on mining, geology and mineral beneficiation.

10. Banking and Finance

10.1. Both sides committed to address obstacles hampering normalisation of banking relations and to create channels for direct banking transfers between the two countries.  Both sides noted that the JCPOA removed all banking sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran. In view of this, both sides urged their Central Banks to work towards normalising banking relations between the two countries.

10.2. The Republic of South Africa will continue to support the Islamic Republic of Iran at the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in order to have the current counter measures lifted permanently and to have the Islamic Republic of Iran removed from the FATF Public Statement, based on the progress made by Islamic Republic of Iran in line with the Action Plan agreed with FATF.

11. Energy

11.1. Both sides agreed to explore opportunities in trade in Liquefied Petroleum Gas and Liquid Natural Gas, including mini LNG and large-scale LNG. 

11.2. Both sides noted the MOU signed between PETROSA and Research Institute of Iran (RIPI) to collaborate on Gas to Liquid research technology.

11.3. The Republic of South Africa agreed to investigate ways to assist in increasing Iranian crude oil importation and is currently looking at options. Furthermore, it was noted a government to government cooperation is also being explored for specific crude oil allocation for the Republic of South Africa.

11.4. The Islamic Republic of Iran is willing to cooperate on skills development and knowledge sharing in the energy sector with the Republic of South Africa.

12. Science and Technology

12.1. Both sides in order to develop and to increase the scientific and technological cooperation have agreed to take the appropriate action in fulfilment of financial obligations for the final selected research project for the joint call in Biotechnology, Oceanography and other new technologies.

12.2. Both sides indicated their readiness to hold joint meetings and workshops in Materials and Energy and Aerospace.

12.3. Both sides agreed to explore the possibility of establishing a short-term research and exchange of experts.

12.4. Both sides agreed to create another subcommittee, “Technology, Innovation, and knowledge-based Small and Medium Enterprise cooperation” to the working group.

13. Water and Sanitation

13.1. Both sides agreed to identify and prioritize four cooperation areas in the first phase of the implementation of the MOU; Trans-boundary Water Management, Sea Water Desalination, Integrated Water Resources Management and Infrastructure Development.

13.2. Both sides further agreed to consider additional projects in Hydropower and Agriculture. 

14. Consular Cooperation

Both sides agreed to hold regular consultation on consular cooperation, including issues pertaining to the issuance of visas to the business community, academia and to finalise the MOU on the Waiver of Visa Requirements for Holders of Diplomatic and Official/ Service Passports.

15. Appreciation

15.1. It was agreed that the 14th Meeting of the Joint Commission will be held in Tehran, the exact date of which will be mutually agreed upon through diplomatic channels.

15.2. The Islamic Republic of Iran expressed appreciation to the Republic of South Africa for the warm hospitality and the excellent arrangements for the 13th Meeting of the Joint Commission.

16. The Joint Communiqué of the 13th Meeting of the Joint Commission was concluded in Pretoria on 23 October 2017, (corresponding to 1 Aban 1396) in the English and Persian languages, both being equally authentic.

For the Republic of South Africa
H.E. Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation

For the Islamic Republic of Iran
H.E. Dr Mohammad Javad Zarif, Minister of Foreign Affairs

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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