SA, Sweden to strengthen ties

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma is to host the Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt in Cape Town on Thursday for bilateral political, economic and trade discussions.

The two are expected to hold talks aimed at promoting economic relations, with special emphasis on increased Swedish investment and reviewing and improving institutional framework for development cooperation relations.

President Zuma is expected to brief Prime Minister Reinfeldt on the latest outcomes of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Summit which concluded in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on Tuesday.

He will also speak about Zimbabwe's Inclusive Government and its implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA).

Also on the agenda, is the global economic crisis and its effect both in Africa and Europe, climate change and the upcoming COP15 meeting in Copenhagen in December 2009.

According to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, South Africa and Sweden enjoy cordial relations characterised by regular high-level dialogue, diverse bilateral development cooperation programmes and growing economic ties coupled with sound relations at a multilateral level including the UN Security Council.

Prime Minister Reinfeldt, whose country currently heads the European Union's rotating presidency, is expected to engage President Zuma on both the EU and his country's position in the upcoming G20 summit in the United States.

The signing in June 2008 of a Nordic-South African Declaration of Intent on Regional Partnerships in Africa, has put into place the basic principles and guidelines for future trilateral cooperation in the region where Sweden and South Africa can jointly add value to Africa's own efforts to promote peace, security and development.

The trade balance between South Africa and Sweden continues to be in Sweden's favour.

The main trade sectors, both in imports and exports, include manufactured goods, machinery, automotive and transport goods, mining equipment, and chemicals and fuel products. The visit by Prime Minister Reinfeldt will therefore aim to reconcile the two countries trade imbalances.

South African exports to Sweden have increased from R1.046 billion in 2000 to R3.412 billion in 2008 while imports from Sweden increased from R2.902 billion in 2000 to R13.432 billion in 2008.

The trade balance between South Africa and Sweden in 2008 was -R10 020 070 069. From January to April 2009, the trade balance was -R3 776 125 817. The Swedish Trade Council in South Africa works with a number of organisations to promote trade between the two countries.

President Zuma will be accompanied by the International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.