Meeting between the Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates Opening Statement

Your Highness, the Minister
Your Excellency, the Minister of State
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen

Your Highness, I wish to welcome you and your delegation to South Africa. I interpret the fact that you had decided to visit South Africa so soon after your last visit in June 2009 as indicative of the importance that you attach to the development of your country’s relationship with South Africa. I wish to assure you that I share this sentiment unreservedly.

South Africa values its relationship with the UAE, which we consider to be a very important partner in the Middle East. You may be interested to know that the UAE is our 24th largest export market and, despite your relatively small population, we export more to the UAE than we export to countries such as Brazil, Canada and Russia. Of course, the UAE is also an important investor in this country, as we are in yours. I would like to believe that this relationship is mutually beneficial as more than one hundred South African companies with representative offices in the UAE make a valuable contribution to the development of the UAE’s economy.

One of the main objectives of your visit to South Africa in June 2009, was to obtain our Government’s support for the UAE’s bid to host the head of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). At the time, we were unable to do so, because South Africa was not yet a member of IRENA. However, I wish to congratulate you, Your Highness, and the Government of UAE that you had eventually been successful with your bid. Our Minister of Energy visited the UAE earlier this month for the third preparatory Meeting of IRENA and the World Future Energy Summit and signed the membership statutes of the Agency. As a fully-fledged member, South Africa is committed to play a meaningful role within IRENA and we look forward to cooperate with your Government to ensure that the Agency achieves its objectives.

We had agreed during your visit in June 2009 that we would conclude a Joint Commission between our two countries. I understand that officials of our two countries have nearly completed negotiations on the text of the Agreement. Your Government had proposed some amendments to the text last week, which we are currently studying. Regrettably, our legal and administrative processes, including obtaining approval from the President for an International agreement to be signed, did not allow us sufficient time to prepare the agreement for signature during your current visit, but perhaps we could do so later in the year in Abu Dhabi.

Your Highness, with these opening remarks, I wish to welcome you and your delegation again. I look forward to our engagement this afternoon with the hope that it would contribute to elevating the relationship between our two countries to a higher level

Thank you


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