South Africa and Ireland to strengthen political and economic relations

Media Statement


13 July 2023


South Africa and Ireland to strengthen political and economic relations


The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor, will host the Irish Deputy Prime Minister (Tánaiste), Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Defence, Mr Micheál Martin, for a bilateral meeting on Tuesday, 18 July 2023. The meeting is expected to discuss South Africa-Ireland bilateral relations, regional and international issues as well as multilateral developments.


Bilateral relations between the two countries are conducted within the framework of the South Africa-Ireland Joint Commission for Cooperation (JCC), which was established in 2017. The JCC meets biennially at the level of Deputy Minister.


The last meeting of the JCC was held in South Africa in February 2022. The JCC covers a wide range of cooperation on areas such as education, labour, immigration, energy, trade, gender, tourism, arts & culture, and science & technology which are linked to both Governments’ priorities.


South Africa and Ireland share similar values and commitment to multilateralism, in respect of the promotion of democracy, human rights, women’s empowerment, the rule of law and the building of socially cohesive and just societies.


South Africa is the leading import and export partner for Ireland on the African continent. In 2021, Ireland ranked as the 11th supplier to the South African market and 11th export destination for South African products to the European Union (EU). For the five-year period 2018 to 2022, total trade between the two countries increased from R9.2 billion to R10.5 billion, accompanied by a positive annual average growth rate of 3.1%.


In 2022, primary products accounted for approximately 48% of total exports from South Africa to Ireland in 2022. The primary products include coal (18.7%), fruits (18%) and other (11.3%). The value-added products accounted for approximately 30.4% and represented by motor vehicles and tools. These top ten value-added products accounted for approximately 78.4% share of total exports in 2022.


In 2022, the top imports from Ireland to South Africa accounted for approximately 73.4% share of total imports. The value-added products include medicaments, powered aircraft, automatic data processing machinery, orthopaedic appliances and pharmaceutical products and accounted for about 64.6% of the top ten imports from South Africa to Ireland.


This year, 2023, marks the 30th anniversary of South Africa-Ireland diplomatic relations. Bilateral relations between South Africa and Ireland are historic and cordial. There was strong support in Ireland and from the Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement for South Africa’s struggle for freedom and many South Africans, including former Minister Kader Asmal, found refuge in Ireland.


As South Africa and the international community will be commemorating Nelson Mandela International Day on 18th July, it is expected that Tánaiste Martin will jointly participate in Mandela Day activities with Minister Pandor.


The bilateral meeting between Minister Pandor and Tánaiste Martin will reaffirm the importance of the longstanding bilateral political and economic relations as well as the commitment shared by both countries to enhance even stronger economic ties contributing to skills development, job creation and investment, as well as enhanced political and people-to-people relations.


Enquiries: Mr Clayson Monyela, Spokesperson for DIRCO, 082 884 5974




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