Zuma eyes stronger ties with Russia

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma will today meet his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev during an official visit to that country as part of his stepped-up trade offensive aimed at members of the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China)

Zuma's three-day visit to the Russian capital, Moscow, is part of his plan to push new trade and investment routes to the fast-growing emerging economies who are also members of the BRIC.

Both Presidents are set to discuss among other things, ways to enhance cooperation and relationships that already exist between the two governments and look at opening new markets which will boost growth and create jobs.

Zuma has already visited Brazil and India and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva also visited South Africa on his Africa tour in July.

According to Zuma's office, the visit takes place within the context of strengthening North-South cooperation with the aim of consolidating cooperation and partnership on culture, education and skills development.

During the visit, Zuma who is accompanied by six cabinet ministers as well as a business delegation, will sign high-tech contracts between the South African Space Agency and the Russian Federal Space Agency on cooperation in the Field of Earth Observation.

An agreement on cooperation in the Field of Plant Quarantine is also on the cards as well as issues such as direct air links, visa processes and the marketing of South Africa as a tourist destination.

South Africa already considers the Russian Federation as an important strategic partner in the promotion of development, socio-economic and political progress, as well as stability in the globalising world.

Given the similarities of development challenges in South Africa and Russia, especially poverty and inequality, quality of education and health, challenges of HIV and AIDS, it is expected that the two Presidents may reinforce the importance of a development partnership for MDG promotion between the two countries.

Russia, which has highly skilled people in science and technology, offers huge opportunities for trade and investment partnerships especially in minerals energy, agriculture, education and skills development among others.

Meanwhile, the two countries have already agreed to increase their cooperation technology and trade.

International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana Mashabane, together with her counterpart Yuri Trutnev, signed a trade deal, on Tuesday.

This emerged during the 9th Joint South African-Russian Inter-Governmental Committee on Trade and Economic Cooperation also held in Moscow.

Under the protocol, the two countries agreed to increase trade and investment while lowering obstacles to bilateral economic co-operation.

The two ministers also reaffirmed their determination to intensify and deepen mutually beneficial bilateral social, economic and technical cooperation and noted the important role that ITEC can play in achieving these objectives and supporting national programmes of Russia and South Africa.

Under the auspices of ITEC, they also committed, to exploit new trade and investment opportunities and to resolve obstacles to bilateral economic cooperation.

At the same time, the sides acknowledged that the bilateral trade volume falls short of the existing potential and agreed to take steps to increase trade and to shift the structure to high value added products, as well as to enhance cooperation in high-technology areas.