Media Remarks by Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, on the occasion of the 12th Session of the Intergovernmental Committee on Trade and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) with the Russian Federation, Pretoria, 07 November 2014

Ladies and Gentlemen of the media,

We have just concluded the 12th Session of the Intergovernmental Committee on Trade and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) with the delegation from the Russian Federation, led by His Excellency Sergey Donskoy, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment.

The ITEC remains the main structured bilateral mechanism between South Africa and Russia, and since 1999 it has proven to be an effective instrument in contributing directly to improved two-way trade and investment, as well as critical skills development and technology exchanges between our two countries. 

We have hosted the ITEC Sub-Committees in the sectors of trade, investment and banking; mineral resources; energy; transport; science and technology; water resources; agriculture, forestry and fisheries; and education.

This 12th Session of the ITEC was instrumental in reviewing progress made since the last session held in Moscow in 2012.  Discussions were very fruitful and all Sub-Committees have committed to strengthening implementation of all the existing commitments between our two countries in the respective sectors, so that our strategic partnership produces tangible benefits for the peoples of our two countries.

An important element of our discussions focussed on the need to match our excellent political partnership with strong economic and commercial relations in terms of substantive trade and investment in high value added and high technology sectors.  

There is still room for improvement in trade relations between South Africa and Russia. We say this whilst acknowledging the substantial growth in total trade between our two countries recorded between 2009 and 2013.  South African exports to Russia increased from R1. 4 billion in 2009 to R3.8 billion in 2013. Total imports from Russia amounted to R3.6 billion in 2013. 

There is, therefore, great potential for trade gains with Russia, particularly in the automotive, agro-processing and mining sectors, as well as food and citrus products.  By facilitating increased partnerships between South African and Russian businesses through the South Africa-Russia Business Council and government to government cooperation, these gains can be realised sooner rather than later.

The 12th ITEC Session also acknowledged the contribution of sectors such as arts and culture and tourism to enhancing the strategic partnership between South Africa and Russia, as well as the clear benefits for our respective citizens that cooperation in these sectors provides.

South Africa is grateful for the constructive participation by Minister Donskoy and his delegation in the 12th Session of ITEC and we look forward to renewed vigour in implementing our respective commitments prior to the 13th Session, which is expected to take place during 2015.

I would now like to take this opportunity to invite Minister Donskoy to address the media.

I thank you

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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