SA, DRC push for strengthened trade relations

Monday, June 26, 2017

Pretoria - South Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have reaffirmed their willingness to improve and strengthen their economic relations.

This will be done through facilitating trade and removing all impediments constraining bilateral trade and investment.

As such, President Jacob Zuma and President Joseph Kabila’s treaty on the avoidance of double taxation should be implemented soon as all legal requirements have been fulfilled.

This emerged on Sunday at the end of the tenth session of the Bi-National Commission (BNC) between South Africa and DRC. The session which was co-chaired by the two Presidents in Pretoria.

The BNC received a report of the Ministerial Commission on the implementation of the signed agreements and the commitments and recommendations made during the 9th Session of the BNC.

These commitments and recommendations concern cooperation projects in politics and governance; defence and security; economy, finance and infrastructure; and social and humanitarian affairs.

The BNC saw the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Cross Border Road Transport Agency and the Office for the Management of Multimodal Freight.

“The two Heads of State noted the positive developments with regard to an immigration agreement, which would facilitate movement of diplomats and officials of the two countries. They urged Ministers, within whose mandate this matter resides, to make the necessary arrangements to sign this agreement expeditiously as all legal requirements have been complied with,” a communique issued after the session said.

Grand Inga Project

President Zuma expressed his satisfaction with the progress in identifying a contractor for the implementation of the Grand Inga Project.

The Grand Inga Project will seek to harness the power potential of the Congo River, sub-Saharan Africa's greatest waterway - with the potential to power half of the continent.

Political stability in DRC, elections

The session also looked into the political stability in the DRC.

The two sides expressed satisfaction with the successful conclusion of the political dialogue initiated by President Kabila which resulted in the appointment of Bruno Tshibala as Prime Minister, the establishment of a Government of National Unity, saying this would strengthen democracy and pave the way for the holding of elections in the DRC.

The two sides called on the electoral bodies to work together to enhance the quality and credibility of this year’s elections.

Polls were not held last year because of budgetary constraints.

This sparked violent protests where civilians were killed by police as they tried to maintain order.

Critics have voiced concern over the delay of election, saying President Kabila who came to power after the 2001 assassination of his father, deliberately delayed elections in order to remain in power.

DRC's conference of Catholic bishops (CENCO) helped to negotiate a December 31 deal aimed at avoiding a political crisis by ensuring an election this year to elect Kabila's successor.

Regional, continental and international issues

Turning to regional, continental and international issues, South Africa and DRC expressed their commitment to African unity and integration within the framework of the Constitutive Act of the African Union and to the peaceful resolution of conflicts, as well as African renewal, specifically through the implementation of the African Union’s Agenda 2063.

“The two Heads of State reflected on the need to peace, security and stability in the region and the continent to end the suffering of the local populations.

“To this end they agreed that it was imperative for Africa to draw on its own resources and capabilities to achieve its objective of a prosperous Africa at peace with itself. In this regard, they expressed concern with the interference of some actors outside of Africa in domestic affairs, which threatens to undermine the sovereignty of African countries.”

The two countries reiterated their common view on the need for the reform of multilateral institutions particularly the Bretton Woods Institutions and the Security Council to include the interests of the developing countries.

In addition, to this they expressed concern about the recent withdrawal by the United States of America from the Paris Agreement on climate change. -

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