SA, UK to double trade

Monday, July 18, 2011
By: 
Chris Bathembu

Pretoria - British Prime Minister David Cameron has committed to double bilateral trade with South Africa by 2015, as he began his first working visit to sub-Saharan Africa to bolster trade links with the continent.

Speaking after a meeting with President Jacob Zuma at the Union Buildings on Monday, Cameron further pledged an addition e52 million aid package for refugees in Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia.

With trade between the two countries valued at around R60 billion, Cameron noted that engagements between Britain and South Africa were more critical than ever.

He described the relationship between the two countries as "cordial and strong", saying there was room to make it even stronger through increased trade and investment.

"There is a huge opportunity for trade between Africa, South Africa and the United Kingdom... we are seeing a booming Africa and I want Britain to play a crucial role in that development. Our engagements are more important than ever before," Cameron said.

Zuma also noted that while trade continued to grow between Britain and South Africa, there was room for improvement.

"I want to say our relations are strong. We are happy to take our relations forward and we will improve as we go forward," he said.

Zuma said apart from trade matters, the discussion also centred on the leadership crisis in Libya and the political situation in Zimbabwe.

Although the two countries agree a solution is needed to resolve the Libyan crisis, differences in the approach are present, with Cameron standing firm on British support for the NATO air strikes, while Pretoria emphasised a more negotiated settlement.

"I think all of us feel we need to resolve the Libyan question. The people of Libya have to decide how they go about ensuring democracy in their country," Zuma said, adding that the African Union was willing to engage further with the European Union on an appropriate solution to the Libyan crisis.

"The Prime Minister and I agree that a solution is needed but we differ on how to go about that. What is important to us from the AU perspective is that any product in Libya should be preceded by negotiations and an end to the violence and the killing of civilians -- that is our position," Zuma said.

Cameron is set to go to Nigeria next.

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