SA, Switzerland cement bilateral relations

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Pretoria - The South Africa-Switzerland (SA-SWISS) 3rd Annual High Level Consultations (HLC) has further strengthened bilateral relations between the two countries, says International Relations and Cooperation Deputy Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim.

Speaking at the conclusion of the HLC in Bern, Switzerland on Tuesday, Ebrahim described it as an important milestone in the development of bilateral relations between South Africa and Switzerland.

He thanked Switzerland for its support on issues that were important to South Africa, singling out those that related to the African Agenda and development.

"Your tangible support for reconstruction and development projects in Africa - a special mention is the Trilateral Cooperation Agreement we have with the DRC - deserve special mention," he said.

Ebrahim noted that Switzerland and South Africa held common views on a number of international issues, including the central role of the United Nations (UN) in international affairs and the importance of reforming the UN. 

Both countries also respected international law, promoted conflict resolution through diplomacy and negotiation, and made important contributions to peacekeeping, post-conflict resolution and development.

"We share the view that development - especially in Africa - needs to remain at the top of the international agenda," he added.

Ebrahim lead a South African government delegation, including representatives from the Departments of Science and Technology, Justice and National Treasury.

The gathering took place within the context of consolidating North-South relations with regard to South Africa's priority to strengthen bilateral, political, economic and trade relations with Switzerland.

Trade between South Africa and Switzerland has been increasing over the years. Total trade increased by approximately R16 billion from R11 billion in 2005 to over R27 billion in 2009, representing an increase of over 150 percent. 

Exports from South Africa to Switzerland were valued at R21.3 billion in 2009 compared to imports valued at only R6.3 billion in the same year. This resulted in a balance of trade surplus for South Africa of about R15.1 billion in 2009. South Africa has been enjoying a positive balance of trade surplus with Switzerland since 2001.