Press Comments made by South African Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and Russian Prime Minister Mikhael Fradkov

Union Buildings, Pretoria

Monday 19 March 2007

Deputy President Mlambo-Ngcuka
Once more, welcome Prime Minister and your esteemed delegation.

We have already had extensive discussions between myself and the Prime Minister and our delegations. The areas we focused on are areas of co-operation in high-tech areas: nuclear co-operation, space technology, the enhancing of co-operation of South African institutions involved in these areas.

We have also identified opportunities for co-operation in the defence industry and South Africa has expressed a keen interest in co-operation in astronomy.

We are also co-operating in the mining arena.

We already have examples of co-operation in these areas.

We are interested in, outside of the economic arena, enhancing co-operation in the cultural, sports and human resource and development fields.

Human resource development has been stalled seeing that we did not have an agreement on the recognition of qualifications. In this regard, we are busy finalizing our National Qualifications Framework (NQF) which will facilitate the completion of this agreement. We then expect that many more South African students will have the opportunity to benefit from training in Russian institutions.

Prime Minister Fradkov
I would like to add to what the Deputy President has said. Our consultations were very comprehensive.

Both sides demonstrated much interest in the discussions.

We have reviewed the current level of co-operation between both countries, the practical results of those agreements signed between Presidents Mbeki and Putin in South Africa in September 2006, and touched upon the results of the meeting of ITEC which took place a month ago in Pretoria.

Both parties expressed satisfaction with the current results and outlined targets to be achieved in the near future.

In May 2007 a group of South African businessmen will visit Russia to discuss in more detail the potential for expanding business-to-business relations.

During the second half of 2007 we are planning to hold an exhibition in South Africa of Russian products.

I also believe that through joint ventures we will be able to implement major projects in those topical areas mentioned by the Deputy President.

Questions and answers

Question Deputy President I understand what Russian companies are looking for in South Africa. Could you kindly elaborate on what South African companies are looking for in Russia?
Answer South African companies are outward investors.
Some South African companies are already investing in Russia - in gas and oil projects, amongst others.

Companies are also interested in accessing technological skills. In this regard, part of the interest is in technology transfer.

Russia is also a market, so we are interested in selling to this market. South Africa has products to sell - vehicles, chemicals - the volumes are still relatively low but can be increased through selling some of these products.

We would like to understand the market better.

Question Prime Minister Fradkov, the trade volumes between South Africa and Russia are quite low. Do you plan to stimulate these in any way? What are your expectations of the business council later today?
Answer Everything we do at this stage is aimed specifically at increasing economic co-operation to new heights.

I am talking firstly about the priority areas like energy co-operation and nuclear energy co-operation in particular. We are already engaged in prospecting for the appropriate resources in South Africa and our physicists and scientists are co-operating quite extensively with each other.

There are also a number of Russian companies active in the South African market - Norilsk Nickel, Aton Capital, Colliers International, Rusimport, Transneft, MorPort, Sual, Lukoil, Interfinance Developments and Crystal Diamond Company. This list is by no means exhaustive. For example, Renova is currently developing magnesium deposits in South Africa.

We are interested in promoting business-to-business links and it is for this reason that we have initiated the South Africa - Russia Business Council.

This is also a task for ITEC and the business community to drastically increase business co-operation.

Question Prime Minister Fradkov, I understand you discussed the peaceful use of nuclear energy with regard to Iran. Was this matter discussed extensively? What are your views on this matter?
Answer (Prime Minister Fradkov) We did not discuss Iran. It would seem to me however, that South Africa and Russia have common views on a many global issues and this is no different.

We are both in agreement that the matter should be dealt with within IAEA safeguards.

(Deputy President Mlambo-Ngcuka) I concur with the Prime Minister.

Question Deputy President, will any agreements, or do you foresee in the future, any agreements being signed in nuclear co-operation, mining and gas-to-liquid or coal exploration?
Answer (Deputy President Mlambo-Ngcuka) We have signed an
agreement on co-operation the field of water.

There is also an agreement in place between both countries - the Treaty of Friendship and Partnership. This is a similar agreement to the one signed between South Africa and other countries where we investigate cultural and socio-economic co-operation.

There will however be agreements signed by the private sector. I think they would like to announce these themselves when they do the signing this afternoon.

It does not mean that there is no activity at state level just because we are not signing any agreements. We currently have co-operation programmes in the fields of platinum exploration, astronomy, science, technology and space.

We also have business co-operation projects in place.

Our co-operation with the Russian Federation is therefore very extensive.

(Prime Minister Fradkov) We also have co-operation in the banking area. Today we witness an agreement between a major bank in Russia and Standard Bank. This will result in the creation of a joint venture through which we will be able to create new financial services for consumers.

Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152

19 March 2007

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