SA, Argentina explore trade prospects

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Pretoria - Representatives from South Africa and Argentina are locked in the Bi-National Commission summit, which is reviewing economic opportunities between the two countries.

The two-day meeting, which ends today, is co-chaired by Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies and Argentina's International Trade Minister Hector Timerman, and has attracted speakers from various sectors such as business, NGOs and academics to discuss relations under the theme "South Africa and Argentina: Gateway countries to Continental opportunities".

Speaking at the opening of the summit, both ministers concurred that there was a need to fully ratify the SACU-MERCOSUR Preferential Trade Agreement signed in 2008, especially now that the global economy has been showing important signs of shifting global trade trends to the South.

They believe that the agreement would certainly give impetus to the trade and investment opportunities that exist between the two countries and their regions.

Argentina and South Africa have much in common and share an agenda to advance bilateral relations and the wider issues of South-South co-operation.

Both countries have economies of similar size, are rich in natural resources and share membership of the G20, the pre-eminent body representing the world's most significant economic powers. Bilateral trade between the two countries is over US $2 billion.

"Economically, both countries' gross domestic products are at the same level of over US $350 billion and both countries share many complementarities that have great potential to improve the lives of both peoples," the Department of International Relations and Cooperation said on Thursday.

South Africa also has unquestionable expertise in the mining technologies that Argentina's mining industry can use, while on the other hand, Argentina is one of the leading countries in the area of agricultural technology and food security, which South Africa can use in order to respond to the country's food security objectives.

Some entities that are participating in the summit are Standard Bank, SABMiller, AngloGold Ashanti, Blue Label Telecoms and Business Unity SA.

At the end of the summit, the two countries will see the launch of a pioneering book by one of the eminent scholars on Argentine-African relations, Professor Gladys Lechini from the National University of Rosario, entitled: "Argentina and South Africa: Facing the Challenges of the 21st Century - Brazil as the Mirror Image".

This is the first piece of work ever produced about the evolution of the two countries' bilateral relations and it will certainly serve as a reference point for many interlocutors interested in the advancement of relations between the two countries.

The outcomes of this seminar will be presented to the two countries' Foreign Ministers Meeting of the Bi-National Commission scheduled to take place in South Africa in 2012.