Statement by the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, on international developments, 25 June 2013, OR Tambo Building

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Our briefing today will focus on important aspects in the implementation of South African foreign policy objectives. We will focus on President Obama’s visit to South Africa this weekend and provide feedback on our visit last week to Europe.

OFFICIAL VISIT BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE U.S.

With regard to the visit to South Africa by the President of the United States of America, we can confirm that President Zuma will receive President Obama, who will be in South Africa on an official visit from 28 June – 30 June 2013.

In line with our Strategic Partnership signed in 2010, relations between South Africa and the United States are solid, strong and positive. The Obama Administration has expressed interest to partner with South Africa domestically and regionally.

Presidents Zuma and Obama will hold bilateral talks in Pretoria on 29 June 2013. The two leaders will discuss the status of bilateral relations between South Africa and the United States. The talks will range from trade, health and education cooperation; development assistance; to peace, security and development cooperation in Africa.

The visit will provide an opportunity for both countries to: reflect on the positive work that has been done by the US on the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) Framework Implementation Plan (PFIP); to acknowledge the positive impact of the PEPFAR programme on the health care sector; as well as South Africa’s effective stewardship of US investment.

In line with this, President Obama is expected to be accompanied by the United States Trade Representative (USTR), Mr Michael Froman, as well as a delegation from the Overseas Private Investment Cooperation (OPIC), the Export-Import Bank (EXIM) and the United State Trade and Development Agency. 

The United States continues to support South Africa’s domestic priorities and has made an effort to align its assistance programmes and projects with these priority areas. South Africa and the United States face a number of common challenges such as the quest to improve public education and health; create jobs, develop skills and finally safety and security issues.

USAID and National Treasury have signed a comprehensive Mega Assistance Agreement (MAA) in 2010. The initial period of the Agreement is due to expire in October 2013. USAID and the Government of South Africa have also been undertaking projects in 3rd countries as part of a trilateral programme that aims to improve the lives of people across the continent. Between the initial launch in 2009 and 2012, R21 million was disbursed to five departments (Department of Science and Technology, Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, Department of Education (now the Department of Higher Education), Department of Environmental Affairs and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries) for trilateral programmes in Southern Sudan, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and Botswana. USAID and National Treasury will continue to meet to discuss the extension of the MAA.

Trilateral cooperation projects in the SADC region and the rest of the continent in the area of food security have also been increased, recording wide success and presenting clear opportunities for even more cooperation in this regard.

The US Strategy Towards sub-Saharan Africa, which was announced in June 2012 by President Barack Obama, acknowledges that Africa is more important than ever to the security and prosperity of the international community – and to the US in particular.

The thrust of South Africa’s foreign policy is the pursuit of the African Agenda. Our foreign policy is informed by our domestic priorities which seek to address the five key priority areas identified by government.

The US Strategy has synergies with SA’s support for the African Agenda in the following ways:

  • The strengthening of democratic institutions , and

  • Support for economic growth, trade and investment, which will encompass the following:

    • to encourage diversification of exports beyond natural resources,
    • to ensure that the benefits from growth are broad-based,
    • promoting an enabling environment for trade and investment,
    • improving economic governance,
    • promoting regional integration,
    • expanding African capacity to effectively access and benefit from global markets,
    • encourage US companies to trade with and invest in Africa,
    • advancement of peace and security,
    • the promotion of food security,
    • the transformation of Africa’s public health,
    • increasing opportunity for Women and Youth, and
    • responding to humanitarian crises, while promoting resilience.

In recent years, economic cooperation has received increased attention on the back of a stable political relationship and ever-increasing solidarity between our respective peoples. In line with our emphasis on economic diplomacy, we have seen significant expansion of trade ties and investment links between our respective countries. In this regard, trade and investment has featured prominently on our agenda because we believe that this will assist in dealing with the effects of slow economic growth and growing unemployment in both our countries.

The United States is a major economic partner for South Africa and continues to feature high on the list of trade and investment partners. It is a major export market for South African products and an important source of foreign direct investment. There are currently  approximately around 600 US companies trading in South Africa, which provide over 120 000 local jobs and contribute about 30% to Corporate Social Investment (CSI) for corporate social projects.

Total trade with the USA is in excess of R130 billion (2011), with SA enjoying a trade surplus of approximately R18 billion (a 14.4% increase over 2010).

It is also important to note that while the US is a significant partner for South Africa, we are also the US’ biggest market in Africa accounting for $7.3 billion of American exports.

South Africa’s exports to the USA under AGOA are the most diversified when compared to other Sub-Saharan African countries’ exports. AGOA has boosted bilateral trade between the USA and South Africa, and in particular it is estimated that about 98 % of South African and other Sub-Saharan African countries’ exports to the USA receive preferential treatment under AGOA.

In turn, South Africa is an important investor with the announcement of the investment by SASOL in Louisiana regarded as the single biggest investment in the history of the US. 

This investment will not only pump in much needed revenue into the economy of the US, but will, through SASOL’s world class technology, revolutionise the economy of Louisiana and surrounding states such as Texas, as well as create sustainable employment opportunities.

President Obama’s additional activities will include:

  • Presiding over a Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) meeting at the University of Johannesburg, Soweto campus,

  • Visiting various sites in Cape Town on 30 June 2013, including Robben Island and a health facility funded by the US at the Desmond Tutu Centre in Noordhoek and,

  • Delivering a public address at the University of Cape Town, on the 59th anniversary of a speech at the same venue by Senator Robert Kennedy

OUTCOMES OF VISIT TO EUROPE

Ladies and gentlemen,

We recently visited two countries in Europe: i.e. the Republic of Belgium and the Republic of Finland.

In Belgium, we met with Baroness Catherine Ashton, the European Union (EU) High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, for the 12th SA-EU Ministerial Political Dialogue (MPD).

The Ministerial Political Dialogue is a structured engagement that takes place annually as part of the SA-EU Strategic Relationship.  It also serves as a preparatory meeting for the annual SA-EU Summit, which will take place in South Africa during the course of next month, July 2013.

During the Ministerial Dialogue, we welcomed the continued deepening of the SA-EU Strategic Partnership and the importance of continued Development Cooperation.

We particularly called for the strengthening of cooperation in the areas of migration, energy, employment and trade.

In this regard, it was proposed that the upcoming SA-EU Summit focus on the theme: “Job creation through inward investment”.

Furthermore, Baroness Ashton and I reflected on Africa and international issues of common interest related to development, peace, security and good governance.

Lastly, we welcomed the growing role of emerging economies in global affairs; and South Africa was congratulated on the successful BRICS Summit hosted in Durban on 26 – 27 March 2013 and the developing dialogue between these countries and Africa.

On 12 June 2013, I met with Mr Didier Reynders, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belgium, in Brussels for bilateral consultations.

The meeting afforded us an opportunity to review the state of bilateral cooperation between South Africa and Belgium. We also exchanged views on a host of issues ranging from global peace and security, including the Great Lakes Region, and the state of the global economy.

With regards to bilateral relations, we expressed satisfaction with the increased levels of trade, investment and the deepening cooperation between the two countries.

We also reviewed preparations for a visit planned for October 2013 by His Royal Highness Prince Philippe who is expected to lead a large trade delegation (approximately 400) to South Africa. We expressed the hope that this mission will lead to the expansion and deepening of trade and investment ties between South Africa and Belgium.

Regarding developments in the Great Lakes Region, we reaffirmed our support for the UN/AU Framework for the DRC and the Great Lakes region signed in February 2013 as an appropriate and significant response to the persistent insecurity in the Eastern DRC and the Great Lakes Region. In this regard we agreed to support the on-going process to stabilise the region, particularly the Eastern DRC.

Ladies and gentlemen,

While still in Europe, we also visited Finland for the Africa-Nordic Foreign Ministers Meeting. Whilst there, we also held bilateral talks with Mr Erkki Tuomioja, the Finnish Foreign Minister, as well as with Mr Carl Bildt, the Swedish Foreign Minister, and Mr Villy Søvndal, the Danish Foreign Minister

During the meeting, were called Minister Tuomioja’s participation in the African National Congress Centenary celebrations in January 2012 in Bloemfontein and the cordial historical relations that exist between our two countries. 

We highlighted that South Africa advances the African Agenda and that it has expertise on peace support operations. We called on the Nordic countries to continue their support for Africa’s peace operations. 

On the recently adopted UN Arms Trade Treaty, which Finland co-authored, South Africa has always propagated for the non-proliferation of small arms.  As a result, South Africa would support the ratification of the treaty.

Lastly, we also discussed issues relating to development, peace and security on the African continent. We also held discussion on Syria and South Africa-EU relations.

I thank you

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

OR Tambo Building
460 Soutpansberg Road
Pretoria

 

 

 

 

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