Pretoria - Relations between South Africa and Tanzania are set to soar to higher levels following the signing of two bilateral agreements.
The agreements signed on Wednesday afternoon are the Bi-National Commission (BNC) and the Agreement on Co-operation in the fields of Arts and Culture.
"The signing of these instruments is a clear indication of our collective determination to take our relations to higher levels for the mutual benefit of our respective countries," President Jacob Zuma said.
He was briefing the media after holding talks with his Tanzanian counterpart, President Jakaya Kikwete, who is here for a state visit.
Zuma told a media briefing in Pretoria that the new BNC agreement does not only replace the current Presidential Economic Commission, but also seeks to broaden the scope of the two countries' bilateral cooperation.
"We felt the time had come to move beyond just economic cooperation, to other areas of mutual interest," said Zuma.
The signing of the Arts and Culture agreement will consolidate, broaden and strengthen the friendly ties and reciprocal understanding between the two countries. It will also further promote the mutual knowledge and understanding of the respective cultures, intellectual and artistic achievements, history and way of life as well as uplift and enhance the quality of life of the peoples of South Africa and Tanzania.
The agreements will no doubt in future tighten the historical relations between the two countries.
Tanzania was home to scores of South Africans during the struggle for liberation and according to Zuma, the relations should span across a wide spectrum.
"Our relationship is one born out of great sacrifices that clearly distinguished good from evil ... Given the sacrifices made, it is most appropriate that the two nations combine all their efforts in their fight to eradicate poverty and underdevelopment," said Zuma.
During the talks, the two Presidents indicated that they were pleased with their bilateral cooperation, although they agreed that there were still untapped areas of cooperation. In this regard, they have directed ministers to work towards the finalisation of other outstanding agreements.
They also emphasized the importance of strengthening bilateral relations in a number of fields, including energy, agriculture, mining, infrastructural development and water.
"Of particular importance is the need to prioritise economic cooperation through trade and investment and thus create job opportunities in our respective countries," said Zuma, adding that the South Africa-Tanzanian Business Forum will go a long way in identifying further areas of economic cooperation between the private sectors in the two countries.
South Africa and Tanzania have strong economy links, with South Africa being the third largest exporter to Tanzania, with a market share of 9.63 percent.
However, the volume of trade between the two countries suggests that South Africa's exports to Tanzania fell from $500 million in 2009, to slightly less than $500 million in 2010.
On the other hand, the picture shows imports from Tanzania growing by almost 100 percent from $22 million in 2009 to $44 million in 2010.
More than 150 South African companies operate in Tanzania, but Kikwete said this was not enough.
He hoped that the business forum will identify untapped business opportunities that the two countries can cooperate on.
Kikwete said the two countries needed to expand business cooperation before the issue of trade imbalance can be addressed.
Currently, South African exports to Tanzania consists predominantly of manufactured goods such as machinery, mechanical appliances, paper, rubber products, vehicles, iron, steel, services and technology. Imports from Tanzania are mainly gold, coffee, cashew nuts and cotton.
Apart from boosting trade, the two presidents also touched on how they can consolidate the African Agenda and enhance cooperation in dealing with multilateral issues, such as reform of institutions of global governance.
The two also talked about the situation in Libya and the newly born South Sudan. Asked to comment on what he would like see as the end game in the Libyan conflict, Kikwete said his country supports the AU roadmap, which encourages an inclusive and consensual Libyan-owned and led transition. It is hoped this will lead to the adoption and implementation of the necessary political reforms to address the causes of the current crisis, including democratic elections to enable the Libyans to freely choose their leaders.
Admitting that there were deeper conflict issues, Kikwete stood with Zuma that a military solution is, however, not the correct way to resolve problem.
On the new kid, South Sudan, both Zuma and Kikwete agreed that the people of that country should be given the opportunity to decide their own needs as the country, while the international community can help where it can.
The two leaders described their talks today as "fruitful and successful", which will forge strategic partnerships.
"This historic visit will go down in the annals of history as an important beacon of relations between our two nations, who will forever be bound by a history of struggle, sacrifice and common dedication to freedom, justice and the creation of a better life for all," said Zuma.
Kikwete hoped Zuma would visit Tanzania in time for the opening of the ambitious, pan-African Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology that has the main objective of developing the next generation of African scientists and engineers, in September this year.