Speech delivered by Deputy Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim on the occasion of the celebration of the National Day of the Republic of Korea, 04 October 2012
His Excellency, the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea, and MrsYoon Lee
Other Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Ladies and gentlemen
On behalf of the Government and the People of the Republic of South Africa, it is an honour and a privilege to address you today, on this occasion of the celebration of the National Day of the Republic of Korea. We thank His Excellency the Ambassador and Mrs Yoon Lee for extending this invitation.
The year 2012 marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between South Africa and the Republic of Korea, dating back to 1st December 1992. A major landmark in the bilateral relationship was the visit to the Republic of Korea in July 1995 by South Africa’s first democratically elected President, Mr Nelson Mandela. He and then President Kim Young-sam conducted bilateral talks in Seoul, which had a particular focus on bilateral trade and investment in South Africa.
The visit also culminated in a number of framework agreements being concluded. The visit, the first of its kind at Presidential level between the Republic of Korea and South Africa, had strong symbolic connotations that contributed to increased bilateral trade and increased Korean investment in South Africa. Tourism from the ROK to South Africa also recorded a rise after the President’s visit.
Increasingly, the main focus of the bilateral relationship is on socio-economic ties. Today the ROK is South Africa’s 4th largest trading partner in Asia, while South Africa is the ROK’s largest trading partner in Africa. The bilateral trade between the two countries for the year 2011amounted to R 33 737,774. The bilateral trade balance for the year 2011 amounted to R 825 994, which slightly favours South Africa. The success of ROK companies such as Samsung, LG, and Hyundai, means that the Republic of Korea is now better known in South Africa than ever before.
Relations between the Republic of Korea and South Africa have been developing rapidly, with engagements in various important sectors relating to the South African Government’s five priority areas. The Knowledge Sharing Programme led by Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) also enhances relations.
South Africa continues to expand relations with the Republic of Korea. In this context, Deputy Minister Ebrahim recently led a successful delegation to the 6th Policy Consultative Forum between the Republic of South Africa and the Republic of Korea, which took place in Seoul from 20 to 21 September 2012.
The Forum is a platform that enables the two countries to strengthen and deepen bilateral and multilateral relations; to enhance cooperation in the energy, science and technology sectors; to strengthen cooperation in development, trade, investment; and on regional issues.
Trade between South Africa and the Republic of Korea comprises a vast range of products, from minerals and semi-finished products to sophisticated high-technology electric and electronic products. South Africa is an important supplier of bulk raw materials and semi-processed minerals and metals, such as gold, coal, ferro-chromium, ferro-manganese, iron ore, stainless steel, lead, copper, nickel and zinc, that are vital for several production processes in the Republic of Korea.
ROK exports to South Africa are predominantly made up of value-added or manufactured products. Products such as automobiles, auto tyres, woven fabrics, apparel as well as industrial electronic and consumer electronic goods, are increasingly making inroads into the South African market.
There is considerable opportunity for the expansion and diversification of trade. South Africa is well positioned to supply South Korea with products related to: mining, automotive components, agro-processing, textiles, jewellery and chemicals, as well as pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.
Interest in South Africa over the past years affords us the opportunity to expand co-operation with the Republic of Korea in fields such as skills development; transfer of technology, rural development, beneficiation of minerals, energy and direct investment in assembly plants for the products of South Korean companies.
Cultural and tourism exchanges between the two countries are also booming. The number of South Koreans studying in South Africa steadily increases. Many South Korean students each year travel to South Africa as an alternative destination for English learning. More and more South Koreans are discovering that South Africa is “Alive with Possibility”.
Our participation in such bilateral initiatives further indicates the commitment by our government to strengthen social, political and economic relations between the Republic of South Africa and the Republic of Korea. In particular, our presence here today seeks to strengthen people-to-people relations between the citizens of our respective countries. It seeks to deepen our understanding and show appreciation of each others’ cultures and way of life.
On the multilateral front, the Republic of Korea is also establishing itself as a valuable partner dedicated to the enhancement of the African development agenda. On 18-20 October this year, the Government of the Republic of Korea will be hosting the 3rd Korea-Africa Forum, which is led at ministerial level. The theme of the Forum is “Development Cooperation; Trade and Investment; and Peace and Security”. The Korea-Africa Forum is in line with the New Partnership for Africa’s Development and the African Union Partnership programme. Through the structure of the Forum, the Republic of Korea has reaffirmed its commitment to enhancing its partnership with Africa in diverse fields such as green growth, climate change, food security, governance and human capacity building based upon Korean experiences and developed expertise.
In conclusion, on behalf of the Government and the People of the Republic of South Africa, I would like to convey to you, Your Excellency and your Embassy colleagues, as well as to the Government and the People of the Republic of Korea, our best wishes for the continued prosperity of your country, and may the relations between our two countries continue to grow from strength to strength.
I thank you.