Finland is SA's true friend - Motlanthe

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Pretoria - Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe says South Africa respects its trade relations with Finland and regards the European country as a "true friend" on both bilateral and regional levels.

"Our countries share common values of democracy, respect for human rights and social justice, and we continue to build our good relationship on these principles," Motlanthe said while welcoming Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen at Tuynhuis on Thursday.

He said South Africa was "heartened" by the contributions made by Finland towards the realisation of this country's free and democratic elections in 1994.

"Your visit creates an opportunity for both sides to examine the scope of our relations over a wide field. Political, economic, social and development co-operation issues are reviewed holistically, so that our relations can develop to the mutual benefit of both parties," he said.

Science, technology and innovation were vital to the development of South Africa as well as the whole African continent and bridging the digital divide for the success of the development of Africa.

Motlanthe expressed hope that Vanhanen and his business delegation will lead to fruitful future initiatives that could lead to development and expand relations further.

South African exports to Finland have increased from R163.337 million in 2000 to R675.788 million in 2009 while imports from Finland increased from R2.567 billion in 2000 to R3.253 billion in 2009. The trade balance between South Africa and Finland in 2009 was R2.577 billion.

Finnish exports to South Africa have decreased by 20 percent in the last year, while South African exports to Finland have increased by 60 percent in the same period.