SA, Russia hold fruitful talks on ITEC
Pretoria - South Africa and Russia have held fruitful discussions at the 13th session of the Joint Intergovernmental Committee on Trade and Economic Cooperation (ITEC).
Speaking following the session on Thursday, International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said all sub- committees of ITEC have agreed to strengthen the implementation of all existing commitments between the two countries.
“The ITEC remains the main structured bilateral mechanism between South Africa and the Russian Federation, 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 been pleased with the work of the ITEC sub-committees,” said the Minister.
She said that in line with its domestic priorities, South Africa continued to advocate more progress on skills development, agricultural cooperation and science and technology.
Other key priorities for South Africa in these discussions included cooperation on nuclear energy, transport including rail transport and systems, as well as agriculture and agro-processing industries.
“I am certain that our close cooperation with our Russian partners will bear significant fruits in the near future,” said the Minister.
Minister Nkoana-Mashabane said discussions included the need to match the two countries political partnership with strong economic and commercial relations in terms of substantive trade and investment in high value added and high technology sectors.
‘South Africa is still to catch-up on trade volumes with Russia, despite substantial growth in total trade between the two countries between 2009 and 2013.”
South African exports to Russia have 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 are thus great potential trade gains with Russia, particularly in the automotive, agro-processing and mining sectors as well as food and citrus products,” explained the Minister.
The Minister said 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 without delay.
The 13th ITEC Session has 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 provide.
The session was co-chaired by Minister Nkoana-Mashabane and Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation Sergey Donskoy.
South Africa looks forward to renewed vigour in implementing the respective commitments prior to the 14th ITEC Session to be hosted in South Africa in 2016. – SAnews.gov.za