Address by President T Mbeki at Press Conference following Meeting with President Kikwete of Tanzania, held on 7 April 2006, at Presidential Guesthouse

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen of the press.

First of all let me say I'm very happy indeed to have President Kikwete with us here. When we went to Dar-es-Salaam for the inauguration in December 2005, the President indeed had said he would want to come here on a working visit so that we can look at a variety of matters.

As you can see he is a working man, he came to work not for ceremony. And one of the matters that we've agreed with the President is to make sure that we move on the implementation of an old decision between Tanzania and South Africa which has to do with what we have established - a Presidential Economic Co-operation Commission to look at the matter of the detailed economic co-operation between Tanzania and South Africa, to make sure that we activate that commission.

We are looking at possibly June for its first working meeting. It had an inaugural meeting here but its next working meeting should be in Tanzania sometime in June, because we are very keenly interested in this matter of increasing the economic relations between the two countries and addressing these common challenges of development and poverty in both countries.

That commission should also help us, among other things, to address issues that have to do with the trade imbalance between Tanzania and South Africa; trade is very heavily weighted in favour of South Africa, we need to do something about that, which should include encouraging larger volumes of investment by South African companies in Tanzania.

Already South Africa is, I think, the fourth largest foreign investor in Tanzania and there is no particular reason why South Africa should not be number one in terms of foreign investors in Tanzania. And that's precisely part of the process of improving the productive capacity of the country which would have an impact on the matter of trade. That's an important matter and I think, as I was indicating, we are quite committed to making sure that we move with regard to that commission so that we can address all of these detailed matters that relate to that economic co-operation.

I don't know but members of the media might know this, that already we have something in the order of 150 SA companies in Tanzania that I think shows the positive attitude that we are very pleased about from the investor position here in South Africa towards Tanzania. But of course we are able together with the President to look into other matters.

We are very pleased with the work that the President has been doing with regards to solving this one outstanding problem of peace in Burundi which is a matter of ensuring that the Palipehutu - Forces for National Liberation (Palipehutu-FNL) comes into the peace process so that the shooting must end and war come to an end and so on. And indeed the President has moved with regard to that and in ensuring that the government and the FNL are able to interact so that we solve this particular matter. It is critically important.

Of course we've looked at other matters in the region including the forthcoming elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the involvement of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) electoral commissions in that process and we are ready to respond to other requests that might come from the government of the DRC to support that process.

But finally let me say I was very glad that the President could come because at least it gave us an opportunity for us to re-affirm the friendship with Tanzania which, as you know, goes back many decades and to reaffirm our very firm commitment to widening the bilateral relations between our two countries in all areas. But again thank you very much Mr President and welcome.

Issued by: The Presidency
13 April 2006

 

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