SA, Brazil strengthen intergovernmental relations

Friday, July 9, 2010

Pretoria - Intergovernmental relations between Brazil and South Africa have been taken a step forward.

"I am pleased that today we signed a Strategic Partnership Declaration, as well as a Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the field of Intergovernmental Relations. This surely takes our relations a step forward," said President Jacob Zuma on Friday.

The agreements were signed during a state visit by Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who received a royal welcome with ceremonial guards and a 21-gun salute this morning.

The agreements further strengthen the economic relations and commit to annual political consultations between the countries to ensure bilateral interface in the post-Lula era. Lula is due to step down in 2011.

Lula said the signing of the agreements indicated Brazil's commitment to maintaining the "special" relation it shares with South Africa.

Briefing the media after their meeting, Zuma acknowledged Brazil's contribution to the advancement of the African agenda and South-South co-operation.

"Our invitation to His Excellency the President of Brazil symbolises the importance that South Africa attaches to the relationship," said Zuma.

At a multilateral level, the two countries are members of the India-Brazil-South Africa axis. "We are co-operating on a range of international issues promoting their common views on development, human rights and democracy," Zuma said, adding that two countries are underpinned by a common desire to influence the global agenda in the 21st Century.

President Zuma however believes that their countries still have great potential for further growth in trade and economic relations - a view that was shared by Lula.

"A lot more can be done ... We should work together to find solutions affecting us," Lula said, urging for greater trade between to Brazil and the continent.

As such, the two countries have also agreed to deepen cooperation in areas such as trade and industry, science and technology, agriculture and rural development, arts and culture, defence, education and skills development, health, sport and recreation, tourism, water and environmental affairs.

Lula, who has toured the continent at least ten times, visiting 25 different countries, also paid tribute to the continent and committed to help Africa build a future of stability and development.

"Brazil - not just me - took a political decision to make a re-encounter with the African continent ... and I believe a lot can be achieved if we partner."

Brazil "wants to partner with African countries in many development projects. It also wants to reach agreements to cooperate, invest and finance agriculture, infrastructure and renewable projects."

Already, he has visited Equatorial Guinea, Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia- which according to Hornsby demonstrates Brazil's interest in Africa.

Brazil and South Africa see eye-to-eye in many areas, among them an extreme gap between the rich and the poor as well as pursuing a common agenda on the international front.

Trade between these two emerging economies has increased to nearly $1.7-billion in 2009.