Thabethe in Slovakia to strengthen trade

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Pretoria - Trade and Industry Deputy Minister Elizabeth Thabethe is on a visit to Slovakia where she will co-chair the 4th session Slovakia- South Africa Joint Council for Economic Cooperation which aims to promote and strengthen trade.

The work of the joint council is considered vital, said Thabethe, who is attending the meeting in Bratislava.

"These kinds of meetings offer our two governments an opportunity to contemplate our economic and trade relations and consider ways through which these can be enriched and deepened.

"We believe the work of this Joint Council is important in formulating the direction that our economic and trade relations should take. At the same time, we would hope that such initiatives help to build a strong basis for facilitating bilateral trade and investment between our countries," said Thabethe on Wednesday.

Trade between the two countries has been skewed in favour of Slovakia although trade between the two has been increasing over the years.

"Firstly, the trade balance has been heavily skewed in favour of Slovakia. This poses a challenge for South Africa to exert more efforts in exporting its products to the Slovak market. Secondly, we find the pattern of trade to be attractive in the sense that relative to our exports with other trading partners, exports to Slovakia tend to have a higher proportion of value added items," she said.

Infrastructure, energy, ICT, Tourism, was among the sectors identified at the 3rd Session of the Joint Council for Economic Cooperation, wherein bilateral trade co-operation should be developed.

Thabethe will co-chair the council with her counterpart Pavol Pavlis. The purpose of the Council is to promote and strengthen trade, investment and economic cooperation between the two countries.

Meanwhile, Thabethe also addressed the Slovak-SA Business Forum held on the side-lines of the Joint Council for Economic Cooperation.

Thabethe is accompanied by officials from the department, as well as a business delegation with the primary objective of strengthening commercial and economic relations between the two countries.