SA eyes stronger ties with Brazil

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Pretoria - International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana Mashabane will later today jet off to Brazil for a state visit to that country.

The minister, who is travelling to the country ahead of the arrival of President Jacob Zuma on Thursday and Friday, is hoping to strengthen existing ties with the economically upward Latin American country.

"President Jacob Zuma's visit takes place within the context of consolidating South-South cooperation, strengthening the existing bilateral ties and regional partnership, and deepening cooperation on the trilateral and multilateral levels between South Africa and Brazil," says Nomfanelo Kota, spokesperson for the Department for International Relations and Cooperation.

This will be President Zuma's second official state visit since taking office. His first visit was to the oil-rich Angola in August.

The Brazilian government has made the African continent, especially South Africa, one of its economic priorities.

Bilateral relations between the two countries have always been close.

Recently Brazil initiated a new South-South foreign policy aimed at strengthening integration between the major powers of the developing world, among others.

The two countries have also created an India-Brazil-South Africa alliance (IBSA) to change geography, loosen unequal ties with the Triad, which includes North America, Western Europe and Asia Pacific, and establish balanced partnerships.

"The relationship between the two countries has evolved remarkably over the past ten years. Both countries face serious challenges of unemployment, unequal distribution of income and sluggish economic growth," explained Kota.

In an endeavour to strengthen economic relations with Brazil, Kota said numerous export and investment missions to Brazil have been facilitated since November 2005.

"Different sectors were represented in these missions, ranging from mining, wine, information and telecommunications (ICT), auto, capital equipment and arts and crafts sectors."

According to official data, in 2008 total trade between Brazil and South Africa reached US$ 2.52 billion from US$ 2.2 billion in 2007.

"We have witnessed a remarkable increase of 48 percent of South African exports to Brazil in 2008, which translates in a 25 percent trade deficit reduction," said Kota.