International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane will hold bilateral consultations with her Belgian counterpart, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Mr Didier Reynders, on 04-05 July 2012 in Pretoria.
The two Ministers will exchange views on the further deepening of existing bilateral political and economic relations in order to support South Africa’s national priorities and infrastructure development; reflect on issues of mutual concern in the multilateral arena and discuss the modalities for trilateral cooperation on the continent in order to enhance the African Agenda.
Bilateral relations between South Africa and Belgium are strong and continue to strengthen despite the current economic challenges facing Europe.
Belgium is a reliable supporter of South Africa’s reconstruction and development efforts. In recent years Belgium allocated an amount of €25 million as Official Development Assistance (ODA) to South Africa covering, among others, health, education and capacity building in the public sector. In addition, the Region of Flanders in Belgium has also allocated an amount of €5 million per annum over five years, totalling €25 million.
Belgium is South Africa’s 13th global trading partner, with total exports from South Africa to Belgium in 2011 of R14,6 billion and total imports in the same period of R9,1 billion, giving South Africa a positive trade balance.
Approximately 40 000 Belgian tourists visited South Africa in 2011, placing her in the 13th position globally as a long haul market for tourists to South Africa.
Belgium ranks 6th in terms of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in South Africa, focusing on the mining, green energy, ports, logistics and agriculture sectors. There is also extensive cooperation between the ports of Durban and Antwerp, as Belgium is a leading country in ports management, transport and logistics, which are especially important to South Africa in the context of the Strategic Infrastructure Projects (SIPS) as announced by President Jacob Zuma during the 2012 State of the Nation Address (SONA).
Given Belgium’s historic relations with and continued involvement in the Great Lakes Region, the two Ministers will exchange views on developments in the DRC and Burundi, in particular. Furthermore, the Ministers will discuss trilateral cooperation on the Continent. Belgium has recently committed an amount of €2 million for this purpose.
Similarly, Minister Nkoana-Mashabane will also brief Minister Reynders on regional economic integration and infrastructure development initiatives on the continent.
During his visit to South Africa, Deputy Prime Minister Reynders will also meet with Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies and Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu, respectively; and thereafter travel to KwaZulu Natal for a meeting with Premier Zweli Mkhize. It is expected that the discussions with the respective Ministers and Premier Mkhize will focus on the further deepening of trade and economic relations between South Africa and Belgium.
For further information, please contact Mr Clayson Monyela, Spokesperson for DIRCO, on 082 884 5974
Issued by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation