SA-EU Summit set to strengthen bilateral relations

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

President Cyril Ramaphosa is set to jet off to Europe to attend the South Africa-European Union (SA-EU) Summit, which is set to strengthen bilateral relations between SA and the EU.

Ahead of the seventh SA-EU Summit, President Cyril Ramaphosa will undertake a working visit to Strasbourg, France, and Brussels in Belgium from 14-15 November 2018.

The visit will start in Strasbourg on Wednesday, where President Ramaphosa will address the European Parliament and meet key interlocutors, including the President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani.

The European Parliament is the directly elected legislative body of the EU and exercises supervisory powers over the work of EU institutions, including the executive arm of the EU - the EU Commission.

Together with the council of the EU, the European Parliament also exercises legislative and budgetary functions.

President Ramaphosa will, thereafter, proceed to Brussels where he will meet the King of the Belgians, King Philippe Léopold Louis Marie and the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Belgium, Prime Minister Charles Michel.

The President will also receive a courtesy call from the Minister-President of the Government of Flanders, Geert Bourgeois.

Bilateral relations between South Africa and Belgium are underpinned by shared values of freedom and democracy and a similar approach to a broad range of international issues, specifically peace and security.

Trade between the two countries is in South Africa’s favour. South African exports to Belgium include precious stones, organic chemicals, iron, steel and manufactured goods.

Relations between Flanders and South Africa is largely driven by development cooperation, but also includes culture, science and innovation, youth policy, education, economy and trade.

On Thursday, President Ramaphosa will co-chair the SA-EU Summit with the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk and the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker.

Issues to be discussed at the summit will include progress on the SA-EU Strategic Partnership; bilateral political, economic and development cooperation and regional and global issues.

South Africa will serve as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for the period 2019-2020 alongside five EU Members States.

The member states are France and the UK as permanent members and Germany, Belgium and Poland as elected members.

South Africa is the only African country, and one of ten countries globally, that has a strategic partnership with the EU.

The summit takes place under the auspices of the Magôbagôba Dialogue, which was established in 2007, as the umbrella structure for all cooperation between South Africa and the EU.

The EU is South Africa’s largest trading partner and largest foreign investor as a bloc, representing 73.7 percent of total Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) stocks in the country.

Total trade has increased from R150 billion in 2000 to R599.86 billion in 2017. South African exports to the EU increased from R64 billion in 2000 to R262 billion in 2017.

Over 2 000 EU companies operate in South Africa creating more than 500 000 direct and indirect jobs.

The EU has allocated an amount of €241 million to South Africa under the Multi-Annual Indicative Programme (MIP) for 2014-2020.

The EU remains one of South Africa’s largest source of tourists, with over 1.5 million tourists having visited South Africa from 14 EU countries in 2017.

President Ramaphosa will be accompanied by the Minister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davies and the Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni. –