Opening Remarks by Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and the Russian Minister of Natural Resources and Ecology Yuri Trutnev During the 5th Intersessional Session of the Joint Intergovernmental Committee on Trade and Economic Co-Operation (ITEC) Between South Africa and the Russian Federation, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, Tuesday 25 November 2008

Opening Remarks by Minster Dlamini Zuma

Minister Trutnev
Members of the Russian delegation
Members of the South African delegation
Ladies and Gentlemen

Minister Trutnev, Co-Chairperson of ITEC, let me extend a warm welcome to you and your delegation; I trust that you will have an enjoyable stay in our beautiful Province of KwaZulu Natal. 

It is a great pleasure for me to host the 5th Intersessional Session of the ITEC Ministerial meeting which remains a critical vehicle for the strengthening of bilateral trade and economic relations between South Africa and the Russian Federation.  During the 7th ITEC Session held in Moscow in May 2008, we committed ourselves to taking ITEC to a higher qualitative plain. It is gratifying to note the substantial progress that various sub-committees have made over the last seven months in the quest of deepening and widening our co-operation across a wide spectrum of sectors. It is my considered view that this 5th ITEC Intersessional provides us with yet another opportunity to closely scrutinise, evaluate, and plan the work of ITEC going into the future.

I have been informed that based on the commendable exchange of ideas and information,  the Draft Agreement on Airworthiness is ready for signature, this can be concluded either in the next ITEC Session, but we should also encourage an exchange of Ministerial visits to complement the good work that the ITEC subcommittees are engaged in.

The upcoming launch of the Sumbandila satellite scheduled for the 25th of March in 2009 bears testimony to the expanding nature of our bilateral relations and will certainly be one of the shinning examples of the ITEC mechanism. In the same vein, we should encourage co-operation in Space Agency, especially as it relates to exchange of expertise and policy making. In this regard, the work of the Sub-committee on Science and Technology in nanotechnology, biotechnology and high performance computing will take our technological co-operation to even greater heights

There are encouraging signs that the logjam in the conclusion of the Agreement on Mutual Recognition of Qualifications could be broken through emphasis on sectorial approach as opposed to general approach. This should be encouraged as it will open the doors to academic and professional co-operation in various fields. 

Our nuclear co-operation is progressing fairly well, there is however a need to expeditiously finalise all the outstanding issues in our mining and energy co-operation.

The recent visit to Moscow by the South African sub-committee on Water and Forestry served to operationalise the Action Plan in this sector. This will further consolidate co-operation in water resource monitoring, management of forest fires and timber processing. The Action Plan also holds a great promise of evolving into fully fledged commercial interests.     

To conclude, the Department of Trade and Industry led a successful Trade Mission to the Russian Federation in the beginning of November.  Undoubtedly, this will enhance our trade and investment ties as it provided exposure and opportunities to various business sectors. There is however a need to facilitate the interaction of our countries’ custom officials as this will lead to a finalisation of a Generalised System of Preferences and a more significant market access.

Our Joint Sub-Committees will be briefing this meeting on the progress made in the fields covered by ITEC.  I am aware that our delegations have been hard pressed recently to develop further programmes of co-operation between our two countries.  Minister Trutnev, I am sure that you would agree that our strategic partnership stands to benefit from these deliberations.

I wish to conclude once more by welcoming you and your delegation to the Province of KwaZulu Natal.

Welcome Mr Minister.

Opening Remarks by Minister Trutnev

First of all I would like to say for us it is an honour and a pleasure to visit South Africa and to take part in the work towards developing our trade and economic cooperation

When we gathered in the same composition some time ago we set ourselves very high standards and goals and we said to ourselves that our task was to develop cooperation so that it would be adequate and to the level of respect and friendship that exits between our two countries.

And I guess if we talk about the general trends we are definitely moving in the right direction. Obviously we as ITEC Co-Chairpersons are participating because these are the leaders of our countries and heads of companies in our countries

Good progress has been achieved in the spheres of the formation of a legal framework for our cooperation. As the honourable Co-Chairperson has already mentioned we have achieved progress in the sphere of cooperation in outer space. And just to say that the trade volume in the first quarter of this year is actually almost equal to the trade volume of the whole of last year.

And we have also already mentioned that unfortunately not in all areas is our movement forward as dynamic.

I would not like to express any position; I would not like to jump to any conclusions because we will listen to the representatives of subcommittees who will present to us today and we will make conclusions based on those reports.

If I were to evaluate the situation in general I would say that now we can put emphasis on specific projects. We have enough solid ground to cooperate to multiply these projects.

This project can be implemented in areas such as mining, construction of nuclear hydro power stations and other areas of cooperation.

I am sure that if we focus on those projects and they succeed it will lead to a chain reaction in our cooperation; it will allow us to fulfill the main goal to achieve a situation where the economic relations between the two countries are adequate and friendly and help to grow the economies of South Africa and Russia as well as other countries on the African continent.

Thank you very much.

Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152

25 November 2008

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