Wednesday, October 21, 2009

SA seeks stronger ties with Brazil

BuaNews, Pretoria (Compiled by the Government Communication and Information System)

International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana Mashabane left for a state visit to Brazil on Tuesday, ahead of the arrival of President Jacob Zuma on Thursday and Friday. The minister is hoping to strengthen existing ties with the economically upward Latin American country.

“President Jacob Zuma’s visit takes place within the context of consolidating South-South cooperation, strengthening the existing bilateral ties and regional partnership, and deepening cooperation on the trilateral and multilateral levels between South Africa and Brazil”, said Nomfanelo Kota, spokesperson for the Department for International Relations and Cooperation.

The visit marks President Zuma’s second official state visit since taking office. His first visit was to oil-rich Angola in August.

The Brazilian government has made the African continent, particularly South Africa, an economic priority. Brazil recently initiated a new South-South foreign policy aimed at strengthening integration between the major powers of the developing world.

Bilateral relations between Brazil and SA have always been close. The two nations have also created an India-Brazil-South Africa alliance (IBSA) to change geography, loosen unequal ties with the Triad (which includes North America, Western Europe and Asia Pacific), and establish balanced partnerships.

“The relationship between the two countries has evolved remarkably over the past ten years. Both countries face serious challenges of unemployment, unequal distribution of income and sluggish economic growth”, explained Kota.

In an effort to strengthen economic relations with Brazil, Kota said numerous export and investment missions to the country have been facilitated since November 2005.

“Different sectors were represented in these missions, ranging from mining, wine, information and telecommunications (ICT), auto, capital equipment and arts and crafts sectors”, he said.

Official data reveals that total trade between Brazil and South Africa reached US$ 2.52 billion in 2008, improving from US$ 2.2 billion in 2007.

“We have witnessed a remarkable increase of 48 percent of South African exports to Brazil in 2008, which translates in a 25 percent trade deficit reduction”, said Kota.