Minister heads to Europe

2013-06-07 17:28
Maite Nkoana-Mashabane (Picture: Sapa)

Maite Nkoana-Mashabane (Picture: Sapa)

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Johannesburg - International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane is scheduled to leave for Europe on Friday night for bilateral talks in Belgium, Turkey and Finland.

Discussions would focus on job creation through investment, as outlined in the National Development Plan (NDP), she said on Friday.

The NDP aims to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by 2030.

"It is hoped that European investment in South Africa will continue to play a vital role in bringing the vision and proposals contained in the NDP to life," she said.

"Investment, in this regard, should be seen as broad and multi-faceted to encompass all the aspects of South Africa's relationship with Europe."

Between 2000 and 2011, the EU remained South Africa's most important regional trading partner, and was also South Africa's main partner for development assistance.

"Currently, the EU has set aside close to R10bn for South Africa for the period 2007-2013," she said.

"To date, the total envelope has been committed largely towards areas of employment creation, water services, health and education, through the use of South African systems."

However, she said South Africa's classification as a high middle-income state signified a possible decrease in development assistance from the EU.

Political dialogue

Nkoana-Mashabane was due to meet the EU representative for foreign affairs and security policy, Baroness Catherine Ashton, for a ministerial political dialogue on Monday.

They would discuss issues including peace and security, international co-operation, economic partnership agreements, domestic developments in South Africa and Europe, and the 2014 general election in South Africa.

Talks would also be held in Belgium, seen as a "valued" economic partner of South Africa.

Nkoana-Mashabane would also meet Belgium's Foreign Affairs Minister Didier Reynders.

Nkoana-Mashabane said trade and tourism between the two countries continued to grow, and Belgium was South Africa's 12th largest export destination globally.

It ranked sixth in the world in terms of foreign direct investment (FDI) in South Africa, focusing on the mining, green energy, ports, logistics and agriculture sectors.

Tourism

Belgium was a leading source of inbound tourism, with 44 000 Belgian tourists visiting South Africa last year alone.

Belgium allocated R327.3m for development co-operation in South Africa up to 2016.

From Belgium, the South African delegation would head to Turkey for an official visit at the invitation of Turkey's Foreign Affairs Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

"Our visit to Europe will conclude in Finland, where we will participate in the 13th African and Nordic foreign ministers meeting, scheduled for 15 to 16 June," Nkoana-Mashabane said.

Macro-economic problems, economic growth, and African conflicts would be discussed with the foreign ministers in Finland.

Nkoana-Mashabane, who will be accompanied by several officials from her department, is due to return to South Africa on 16 June.

Read more on:    eu  |  catherine ashton  |  maite nkoana-mashabane  |  ahmet davutoglu  |  johannesburg  |  belgium

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