Notes following Briefing to Media by Deputy Director-General Ambassador Gert Grobler Media Centre, Union Buildings, Pretoria Tuesday 27 May 2008


President Thabo Mbeki arrived in Yokohama today, Tuesday 27 May, where he will join AU Chairperson Jakaya Kikwete and other African leaders in attending the 4th Session of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development scheduled for Tuesday-Friday 27-30 May 2008. President Mbeki is supported in this regard by Ministers Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and Marthinus van Schalkwyk,

The Conference on African Development, being held under the theme “Towards a Vibrant Africa: Continent of Hope and Opportunity” began earlier on Tuesday with a Ministerial segment, as part of preparation for the meeting of Heads of State and Government and to which South Africa was represented by Ministers Dlamini Zuma and Marthinus van Schalkwyk, South Africa’s Ambassador to Japan, Dr. Ben Ngubane and Foreign Affairs Deputy Director-General Jerry Matjila.

In this regard, President Mbeki is expected to address the Conference on Wednesday 28 May on the issue of Boosting Economic Growth. During his visit to Japan, President Mbeki is expected to hold a number of bilateral discussions on matters of mutual interests including:

  • Prime Minister of Japan-Yasuo Fukuda
  • President of Rwanda-Paul Kagame
  • President of Sudan Omar Elbashir.
  • Cote d’ Ivoire’s Leader of Delegation

Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Dlamini Zuma on the other hand will among others hold bilateral discussions with:

  • Japanese Foreign Minister-Masihiko Koumura
  • Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit
  • A Representative of the Japanese Oil Gas and National Co-operation

Meanwhile, former National Assembly Speaker, Dr. Frene Ginwala was today, Tuesday 27 May awarded the Emperor of Japan’s Highest Honour -the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun on the margins of the Conference in Yokohama. She was bestowed the honour for her outstanding contribution to the TICAD process since 1994.

The Tokyo International Conference on African Development is organized around four themes namely: Boosting Economic Growth; Ensuring Human Security (focusing on achieving Millennium Development Goals and the Consolidation of Peace and Good Governance); Addressing Environmental Issues/Climate Change; Expanding Partnership (focusing on Asia-Africa co-operation and Private-Public Partnership).

Other cross cutting issues expected to be addressed include:

  • Enhanced co-ordination with the AU, Nepad and Regional Economic Communities
  • Support South-South and triangular co-operation in particular Asia-Africa and intra-Africa cooperation
  • Human resources development, institutional capacity building and community empowerment
  • Support to improve governance and rule of law
  • Collaboration with the private sector, private foundations and civil society organizations.

The Conference will conclude its deliberations with the adoption of the Yokohama Declaration, Plan of Action and Follow-up Mechanism.

President Mbeki and his delegation is expected to return to South Africa on 30 May.


Before I talk about the outcomes of the deliberations, let me say something about the strategic importance of Russia for South Africa. Geographically, Russia and South Africa are far apart but there are many similarities and synergies between the two countries – both countries have a whole host of natural mineral resources with important extractive industries, are economies in which commodities play an important role, in fact both countries are major exporters of raw materials to the world market. Both South Africa and Russia face the task over the last 15 years or so of building a dynamic, broad based, competitive economy. Both countries about two decades ago underwent major political and socio-economic transitions, also having to integrate themselves into the global economy, creating growth, fighting poverty, attracting investment in an increasing globalised and competitive world.

South Africa has noted the significance of the political and socio-economic achievements of Russia, in recent times and in particular under the leadership of the then President and now Prime Minister of Vladimir Putin and we are impressed by the political leadership of Russia’s vision of further developing and modernising Russia’s economic and social policies.

Let me give you a few salient facts on Russian achievements:

• from 1999-2007 Russia’s economy expanded by 70%;
• in 2007 it had a GDP growth of approximately 8.1% - that has been the pattern of increase over the last few years;
• foreign reserves totalling US$ 500 billion;
• a surplus of 7.4% of its GDP;
• Russia currently runs a trade surplus of US$ 135 billion;
• Russia’s energy exports have jumped from approximately US$ 6 million in 1995 to US$ 365 billion in 2007 with Russia being one of the world’s major suppliers and producers of energy.

It is against this background that Minister Dlamini Zuma congratulated the Russian people on the recent elections of a new President, a parliament and installation of a new administration with Prime Minister Putin. South Africa has also noted the recent statements by the Russian political leadership which has indicated a strong commitment to continuity, stability and continued growth as well as a firm commitment to continue to address, inter alia, the social and economic challenges facing Russia towards further modernisation, effectiveness and diversification of its economy in a determined and innovative manner in the national interest of Russia and its people.

It is interesting that while we there, Prime Minister Putin announced that in terms of the modernisation of its economy, that Russia would spend US$ 1000 billion on infrastructure development over the next decade. From what I have said, it is more than evident that given the growing economy’s of both countries, the potential that both countries have for further economic interaction and the synergies between the two countries present compelling reasons for South Africa to further consolidate and actively expand its bilateral relations with Russia on all fronts, in particular in the economic field.

The political relations between South Africa and the Russian Federation are very good. We all know about the very generous moral and political support as well as material support that the people of Russia gave to the people of South Africa during the struggle against apartheid.

But what we need to do is to increasingly focus on the expansion of our economic ties because at the moment, our total trade amounts to approximately R5-6 billion which is heavily in Russia’s favour. We need to actively explore opportunities to expand the economic relations – trade or investment – between the two countries. We need to translate the existing excellent political relations and the friendship that exists between the two countries into practical programmes of co-operation and action and this was the topic of discussion during the highly constructive visit of President Putin to South Africa in September 2006. Subsequent visits were paid to South Africa by Prime Minister Fradkov and Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov.

During the State Visit by President Putin to South Africa, President’s Putin and Mbeki signed the Friendship Treaty which encapsulates and reflects the long-standing solidarity, co-operation and deep friendship between our two countries and peoples. During that time President Mbeki reiterated that, that partnership which we value, and which is a Strategic one for South Africa, it is imperative that this be translated into practical co-operation at all levels and sectors, in particular the economic field. For us, the Friendship Treaty serves as the strategic framework and basic document to increase and focus the consolidation and expansion of our co-operation with Russia and we, during this recent visit, discussed the further widening and deepening of ITEC to include more sectors of co-operation between the two countries.

Also, in few of the significant convergence of views between South Africa and Russia on foreign policy and global issues, it is indeed our desire to further intensify the current status of political consultations between our governments to build on that and expand it in a more structured and focused manner. As you are aware, we have been working very closely with Russia on the Security Council. The interaction between South Africa and Russia in New York has been ongoing and constructive and we continue to draw on Russia’s insights, experience and knowledge in the Security Council.

If I can just say that during our visit to Moscow it was very clear that the relations between our two countries had been growing at an exceedingly fast pace during the last few years. We have had a high number of high level visits between the two countries and ITEC has indeed provided a very constructive framework, not only for expanding and building economic and trade ties between South Africa and Russia but also to enhance co-operation between South Africa and Russia in a number of other sectors.

There is an increasing number of South African companies who are investing in Russia – Anglo American, De Beers, companies like Mondi, Naspers, Barlow World and recently Sun International explored opportunities for investment in Russia and off course, on the investment side major Russian companies like Renova, etc have made significant investments in South Africa.

ITEC has indeed, provided a very constructive and useful framework for us to expand our relations.

When ITEC kicked off in 2001, we had three subcommittees – Science and Technology, Education, and Social Affairs. That has now grown substantially. The top structure of ITEC meets twice per annum – once usually in July (as far a possible diaries permitting) for what we call inter-sessional talks and once in October/November for a full plenary session like the one we have just had.

Let me just give you a brief overview of some of the concrete and practical outcomes of the recently concluded ITEC on 22-23 May 2008.

We had a sizeable delegation comprising eight government departments, a strong business component and a number of representatives from parastatals who are co-operating with Russia.

The first committee that I would like to refer to is the trade and investment committee and as I mentioned that despite the fact that the two sides recognise that the bilateral trade has reached its highest level ever, both sides acknowledged that the bilateral trade volume does not correspond to the existing potential and we agreed that we need to create that awareness of the opportunities that exist in both countries. We agreed to intensify participation of Russian and South African companies and organisations in specialised exhibitions and fairs held in each country. We agreed to encourage participation of each others companies in international tenders held in both countries. In this regard, we undertook to share information with Russian companies on the considerable infrastructure development that would take place, not only in Russia but also here in South Africa. You are aware of projects to the tune of R400 billion that will be launched in South Africa and it is hoped that Russian companies will be part of those projects. We also agreed with Russia that we will send a strong business delegation to Russia in November 2008 to further explore the opportunities I have just alluded to.

During the visit of President Putin we created what we call a Russia-South Africa Business Council which was established with the involvement of Chamsa, BUSA – this was signed on 6 September 2006. There have been some hiccups in the functioning of the Business Council but it was now agreed that we should take the necessary steps to rectify the functioning of the Business Council because in essence while government can create the regulatory environment to do business, business must be done between business of the two countries and that is the role of the Business Council. We are going to give urgent attention to this matter.

In light of increased investment (FDI) between South Africa and Russia and the absence of an agreement on the Protection of Investments we have now flagged that agreement as one of the priorities for us to conclude as a matter of urgency.

The second committee dealt with mineral resources and energy. Off course this is a very critical and key area of co-operation given the resources that both countries have. We agreed with the Russians that we would work on the implementation of technology exchange programmes and developing a co-ordinated strategy to put in place conditions for deep mining of raw diamonds, precious metals, beneficiation technologies – this was one of the decisions taken.

We also agreed that there should be increased co-operation between Russia and South Africa on the platinum group of metals and we hope that our experts will meet before the end of July to take further this very necessary co-operation in the field of the platinum group of metals. We also discussed the need to identify exploration, mining and processing projects in coal, uranium and the platinum group of metals for implementation and participation of South African companies in Russia. Diamonds – Linda Makatini – of the State Diamond Trader was present and we agreed with Russia that we have to establish a close working relationship between (inaudible) and the State Diamond Trader because it would be mutually beneficial.

In the field of energy: we stressed the need for closer co-operation in the oil and gas sector, inter alia, between major Russian companies and the South African company PetroSA. In fact, we agreed, and the Russian side indicated that Gasprom was interested in participating in oil and gas projects in South Africa and off course, equally, our side PetroSA is keen to explore opportunities in Russia.

We also agreed to finalise a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Energy Co-operation and we obviously, discussed the energy situation in South Africa and there was a strong interest on the part of Russian companies to participate in this process and to see what opportunities exist for them in South Africa.

Another area of great importance is co-operation in the field of peaceful uses of nuclear energy – we talked about deepening co-operation in this field within the framework of an agreement between Russia and South Africa on the co-operation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy signed in November 2004 and there are a number of issues here: co-operation with Russian companies in providing long-term natural and enriched uranium oxide for our pebble bed reactor project. That will continue. We also talked about developing and implementing a programme for the exchange of personnel with a focus on training of South African nuclear sector personnel.

South Africa will be expanding its nuclear generation programme and we discussed with the Russians their possible participation as a key supplier of competitive fuel products.

These were the issues in the field of energy and minerals which bodes well for future co-operation.

Another area in this field is co-operation in the field of exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes between Russia and South Africa. We agreed we had to deepen our relations and co-operation in this field and I think some of you are aware of the fact that we have been discussing with the Russians the launch of a South African satellite – a communications satellite and we agreed that we will very soon, during the course of this year, finalise all the remaining issues to ensure that that satellite will be launched from Russian territory in the near future. We have committed ourselves to finding a solution during the course of this year.

In the field of transport we discussed the issue of airworthiness which goes hand in hand with the air services agreement and this agreement will, we hope, be finalised before August 2008 because it is important that we in supporting people-to-people co-operation between Russia and South Africa, that we create opportunities for Russians to fly to South Africa. There are no direct flights at the moment except for one that was recently introduced that now flies directly to South Africa. It flies directly to South Africa from Russia and via Mauritius from South Africa to Russia. But we need to build on creating, with a view to 2010, direct air routes to South Africa and that is one of the objectives of our transport co-operation.

There have also been some interested discussions in the field of water affairs and forestry and also in the field of justice.

Let me conclude on the committees by referring to one of the strongest sectors of co-operation between Russia and South Africa – ie. the field of science and technology and education. Russia is a country with an incredibly high rate of literacy with a very strong science and technology base so there are many opportunities for us to work with Russia and we had recently, a session of the joint South Africa – Russia Commission for Scientific and Technological Co-operation and they met on 17 April. Apart from existing areas of co-operation we identified new areas in nuclear research, nanotechnology, biotechnology, alternative energy resources, use of natural resources and information technologies. Our co-operation in the field of science and technology is indeed excellent. We also looked at existing areas – astronomy, radio astronomy, radio physics – that we need to build on.

We also agreed that there should be increased co-operation in the field of nuclear physics regarding the Joint Institute of Nuclear Research and the development (inaudible). These are all examples of the excellent co-operation in the field of science and technology.

In the field of education and considering Russia’s high literacy rate we have agreed that we will develop mutually beneficial co-operation in the field of education and we stress the importance of sharing information on national education systems with a view to expediting the preparation of the signing of an intergovernmental agreement on mutual recognition of qualifications so we can have people moving between the two countries on this basis.

Russia has agreed to increase the number of Russian scholarships to South Africans and we discussed priority areas in which we would like to send young South Africans to Russia.

That is, in a nutshell, the summary of some of the highlights of the ITEC deliberations and apart from the ITEC deliberations and the discussions Minister Dlamini Zuma had with her co-chair Minister of Natural Resources Yuri Trutnev, the Minister also had a very useful discussion with the Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov on expanding and deepening relations between South Africa and Russia.

In conclusion, this visit served to actively and tangibly deepen and widen the co-operation between South Africa and Russia and I can state unequivocally, based on our experience, that the bilateral relations between the two countries are excellent.

Foreign Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma will on Tuesday 3 June 2008 co-chair the 6th South Africa – European Union (EU) Ministerial Troika Meeting in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

To reiterate, it was in the course of 2004 that the European Commission actually reappraised their relations with South Africa and they felt that South Africa and EU relations needed to be elevated beyond the framework provided for in the South Africa – EU Trade and Development Co-operation Agreement. They wanted to move towards a more substantive strategic partnership along the lines of those that the EU has with countries like Brazil, Russia, China, India, to name a few.

We discussed this at length and it was felt that we should agree to this proposal that came from the Commission to enter into a South Africa – EU Strategic Partnership and in November 2006 in a Joint Co-operation Council meeting between the EU and South Africa it adopted a Joint Statement on the South Africa – EU Strategic Partnership which called for a Joint Action Plan to be finalised and agreed to at the next South Africa – EU Ministerial Troika meeting which was held in Brussels on 14 May 2007. The parties at that time agreed that the Strategic Partnership should add value to the existing co-operation (the TDCA), including the South Africa – EU Joint Country Strategy Paper for 2007-2013 – this is the Paper that makes provision for the developmental co-operation between South Africa and the EU and as well as to review and implement or to arrive at a point where we have the full implementation of the TDCA. So on 14 May, the South Africa – EU Ministerial Troika agreed to the Joint Action Plan for the establishment of the South Africa – EU Strategic Partnership.

In terms of the structure of the Strategic Partnership and its overall relation to the TDCA agreement was reached on the following key issues: we agreed that there will be high level political talks twice a year at the Troika format – that is why we will have this forthcoming meeting in Slovenia. This forms the core of the political dialogue between the EU and South Africa and off course, these meetings will take place in South Africa and the EU on an alternating basis.

We agreed that there should be high level ad hoc meetings on issues of common interest whenever necessary.

We agreed that the Joint Co-operation Council should also take place alternately in South Africa and the EU and that it will meet at senior officials and/or Ministerial level.

We agreed that full use would be made of opportunities for contacts between South African ministers and their EU counterparts on issues of mutual interest.

There would be periodic meetings at senior officials level to discuss regional, continental and global issues.

So, basically, what I am saying is that this Strategic Partnership makes provision for a deepened and broadened dialogue with the European Union. The Strategic Partnership is an inevitable consequence and where due recognition was given to the relationship that has flourished between the European Union and South Africa since 1994.

The European Union is South Africa’s largest trading partner, and the main source of FDI and tourists accounting for approximately 40% of South Africa’s imports and about 30-35% of our total exports. South Africa is the EU’s 15th largest trading partner exporting R124 billion of goods to the EU in 2006 while our imports amounted to R154 billion. Total South Africa – EU Trade increased almost five fold from R56 billion in 1994 to R280 billion in 2006.

Also, from a FDI point of view, the EU remains our most important investor.

In terms of the Strategic Partnership we also a established a new overarching umbrella structure for all existing forms of co-operation. We call it the Mokubakuba Dialogue – as you know the Mokubakuba is the national tree of South Africa, a symbol of African culture where people engage in dialogue.

I wish to emphasise that South Africa recognises the strategic importance of the EU to Africa and is one of the key pillars of international political and economic systems. The EU with its 27 members is first and foremost an economic power and its global trade of over €2.2 trillion per annum is the foundation of its key role internationally.

The EU is also the largest overseas development assistance and humanitarian donor in the world amounting to over €43 billion per annum or 51% of the world’s total ODA and off course, in this regard, the EU continues to make important contributions to Africa in support of the AU, NEPAD.

The EU’s total development co-operation to Africa for 2006 amounted to €15 billion. The EU has also provided important financial assistance to the African Peace Facility that assisted Africa to address peace and security challenges on the continent. For South Africa, the value added European co-operation which I referred to under the auspices of the country strategy paper amounts to approximately €140 million per annum. €980 million for the period 2007-2013 does not so much lie in the finance that we get but rather what comes from it in terms of innovation, capacity building, skills development, and so on.

Off course, the EU is increasingly becoming a global player with the evolution of its common foreign security policy.

The SA-EU Strategic Partnership is not only premised on mutual interest and historical and cultural ties but also on a shared belief in certain deep rooted values and principles and a similar vision for a new global order.

The Joint Action Plan states, inter alia, that both partners support the struggle against poverty and underdevelopment, racism and share a belief in the primary of democracy, good governance, as well as rule based multilateralism.

Both sides also declared in the Joint Action Plan that they are fully committed to the vision of an African continent that is prosperous, peaceful, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and contributes to a world that is just and equitable.

The Strategic Partnership will, and we insisted on this, must and will be supportive of regional integration of SADC and in the proposed Joint EU-Africa Strategy this was discussed at the Lisbon Summit in December 2007

The Joint Action Plan also foresees that the experienced gained by Europe in addressing regional inequalities in particular through the implementation of the structural cohesion funds could serve to address South Africa’s efforts and challenges to our dual economy.

This is what motivated us to enter into this Strategic Partnership with the EU.

This meeting in Slovenia will serve to prepare for the first SA-EU Summit to be held in France on 25 July this year.

The EU Troika delegation will include Javier Solana, Secretary General of the Council and EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), Louis Michel, European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, and will be led by Dimitrij Rupel, the Slovenian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Slovenia being the current holders of the EU Presidency.

This will be the 6th session of the SA-EU Ministerial Troika meeting within the context of the ongoing political dialogue under the auspices of the SA-EU Trade and Development Cooperation Agreement (TDCA) and the SA-EU Strategic Partnership. It will be the second meeting of the Ministerial Troika since the establishment of the SA-EU Strategic Partnership and will precede and prepare for the first SA-EU Summit to be held on 25 July 2008 in France.

Issues on the agenda of discussions of the SA-EU Ministerial Troika meeting are expected to include, among others:

  • The implementation of the Joint Action Plan of the SA-EU Strategic Partnership; and
  • The SADC Economic Partnership Agreement
  • Regional and global co-operation between South Africa and the European Union including:

    • Implementation of the joint EU-Africa Strategy;
    • The World Trade Organisation/Doha Development Round negotiations;
    • African peace, security and peacekeeping operations including developments in the Great Lakes region, Chad, Sudan and Somalia;
    • The Middle East Peace Process; and
    • EU-Africa-China Relations
    • Western Balkans

The Troika meeting will also work towards finalising the establishment of structured dialogue fora between South Africa and the EU in time for the 1st annual SA-EU Summit, scheduled to take place in Bordeaux, France, on 25 July 2008, on issues of Peace and Security, Migration, Health, Transport, Energy, Customs and Revenue, as well as Social Dialogue.

The EU will be represented by President Sarkozy, President Barosso, Javier Solana, Commissioner Michel.

The South African side will be led by President Mbeki and accompanied by Ministers Dlamini Zuma, Mpahlwa, Mangena and van Schalkwyk.

Ministers will give feedback on the implementation of the Joint Action Programme.

We will also, at the Bordeaux meeting be a signing of the revised TDCA which will now be fully implemented. We also agreed with the EU that there will be the establishment of the Peace and Security Dialogue Mechanism in the context of the Strategic Partnership. A pilot project on customs co-operation may be announced. There may also be an announcement on the expansion of dialogue in a number of other areas.

We believe that the meeting in Slovenia and the Summit in France will map out the way forward for SA-EU relations.

Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152

27 May 2008

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