SA, EU to strengthen relations at summit

Monday, September 7, 2009

Pretoria - South Africa and the European Union are set to strengthen relations and address shared bilateral, regional and global interests at the SA-EU Summit that kicks-off on Friday in Cape Town.

A top level EU delegation will meet with President Jacob Zuma and his team to review the Trade, Development and Co-operation Agreement (TDCA) that was set up between the EU and South Africa 10 years ago.

"The discussions with the EU will focus on issues including climate change ahead of the UN conference in Copenhagen in December, the global economic crisis, and cooperation between the EU and South Africa on trade, regional development and crisis management," Department of International Relations and Cooperation spokesperson Nomfanelo Kota told BuaNews.

She said an important part of this meeting will be the signing of the amendment to the TDCA.

"Essentially what has happened now is that there are about 35 new articles which had been negotiated to beef up the areas of cooperation with the EU."

This, she explained covers areas such as customs and revenue services and communications.

Ahead of the summit on Thursday, President Zuma is expected to hold bilateral talks with Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt to further strengthen and deepen Sweden's relationship with South Africa.

According to the department, key topics of discussion to be held on Thursday will include cooperation on climate change and the environment.

South Africa's regional role for the promotion of democracy, peace, security and respect for human rights on the African continent will also be discussed.

On Friday, President Zuma will be supported by the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister of Environmental Affairs, Minister Sonjica, Minister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davis, and the Minister of Economic Development, Ebrahim Patel.

The EU is the world's largest trading bloc and generates about 30 percent of global GDP and 20 percent of global trade flows.

It is the world's biggest aid donor to poor countries, contributing approximately half of global aid.

Since the implementation of the TDCA, volumes of bilateral trade between the EU and South Africa have moved from about R56.5 billion in 1994 to the current R313 billion in 2007.