Statement by President Jacob Zuma at the Media Briefing with President François Hollande, Pretoria, 14 October 2013

Ladies and gentlemen of the media,

Good afternoon and welcome.

Today marks yet another important milestone in the bilateral relations between South Africa and France.

We are truly delighted to host His Excellency Mr Francois Hollande on his first State Visit to our country.

Cooperation between the two countries cuts across a broad spectrum of areas including such areas as defence, development cooperation, science and technology, arts and culture, energy and agriculture.

We also have strong economic linkages.

France is South Africa’s third largest investment and trading partner in the European Union.

Between the period 2004 and 2012, investments worth R15 billion by French companies were recorded, creating significant job opportunities.

We have also agreed that we need together to develop trade in a balanced manner.

We will both address the South Africa-France Business Forum later today to encourage our business sector on both sides to use opportunities opened up by this cordial relationship between the two countries.

South African companies in particular are looking forward to opportunities to increase their exports into the French market.

I have briefed President Hollande on our efforts to stimulate the economy, through our new socio-economic blueprint, the National Development Plan.

We produced the National Development Plan so that the country could have one common long term plan guiding our efforts to develop an inclusive economy, create jobs, enhance the capacity of the state and promote partnerships throughout its society.

It outlines what type of South Africa we want to be by the year 2030.

Within the NDP framework we have put our key economic instruments such as the New Growth Path and the Industrial Policy Action Plan, aimed at boosting economic activities in six key areas.

These are;

  • Infrastructure development, Agriculture,
  • Mining and beneficiation, Manufacturing,
  • The green economy and
  • Tourism.

We encourage the business community in both countries to further expand cooperation in these areas. Already there are ongoing investments by French companies in major infrastructure projects in the country.

We also welcome the positive developments on the tourism front.

For example, in 2012, around 122 000 tourists from France visited South Africa, representing a 16% increase compared to the previous year’s figure. Cooperation in the other areas is also continuing.

Skills development forms a key part of our National Development Plan Vision 2030.

I am pleased that our technical skills cooperation component with France includes strengthening skills development, professional training, higher education as well as research and development.

Ladies and gentlemen

In 2012, South Africa and France inaugurated the reciprocal Seasons of Culture to great success.

The French Season was held last year in South Africa, and exposed our people to artistic, educational, and scientific and offerings of French society.

Similarly, our Season is currently underway in France, involving 150 different projects, performances and initiatives across 100 cities in France.

This programme is giving exposure to more than 800 South Africans, including artists, academics and sportspersons.

We are heartened that more than 35 000 people have visited the Nelson Mandela Exhibition in Paris.

The project has proven to be very successful in strengthening people-to-people relations between France and South Africa.

Undoubtedly, the South Africa-France Season of Culture will further tourism between the two countries.

Ladies and gentlemen

France is a reliable development partner for South Africa. Since our democracy in 1994, France has extensively supported our reconstruction and development efforts. We appreciate the ongoing development support.

We also discussed developments in our respective regions.  We applaud the role that France continues to play in strengthening the European Union.

A strong EU is of strategic importance to our country given the close economic and trade links that bind us together.

With regards to Africa, we have agreed to support the ongoing efforts led by the African Union and the United Nations in promoting peace and security on the continent.

We share a common concern about the security and humanitarian situations in zones afflicted by conflicts; especially the plight of women and children.

Ladies and gentlemen

President Hollande’s visit has further solidified the existing relations between our two countries.

We have strengthened cooperation in existing areas and opened doors in new areas as evidenced by agreements signed here.

May I take this opportunity to invite President Hollande to address you.

I Thank you.

Issued by: The Presidency
Pretoria

 

 

 

 

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