SA, EU to sign funding agreement

Friday, September 11, 2009

Cape Town - The South African government is expected to sign a funding agreement with the European Commission and United Kingdom later today.

Through this agreement, South Africa's Employment Creation Fund will receive a boost of approximately R1.2 billion over a three year period.

This will further contribute to government's target of halving unemployment and poverty by 2014 as set out in its new Medium Term Strategic Framework.

President Jacob Zuma, along with representatives from the UK's Department for International Development and the European Commission will sign the agreement during the 2nd South African-European Union (SA-EU) Summit.

Zuma will co-chair the summit with visiting Swedish Prime Minister and President of the European Council, Fredrik Reinfeldt, in Kleinmond, Cape Town.

The European Union delegation also includes Jos, Manuel Barroso, European Commission President and Dr Javier Solana, Secretary General of the Council of the European Union and High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy.

According to a statement, the joint discussions are aimed at further deepening the SA-EU relations and will address issues of mutual interest and concern.

These issues include many of the key national priorities of South Africa, as set out by President Zuma, namely health, education, rural development, job creation and combating crime.

Through the second SA-EU Summit, South Africa seeks to build on the positive progress that has been made since the partnership was launched in May 2007.

Other issues on the agenda of discussions are expected to include the ongoing negotiations on the SADC-EU economic partnership agreements, the global financial crisis, climate change, peace and security in Africa, the Middle East and preparations for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

The summit will also see the signing of the amending agreement to the SA-EU Trade, Development and Cooperation Agreement (TDCA). The new agreement includes 35 new and revised non-trade chapter articles which were negotiated following the mid-term review of the TDCA.

The amending agreement will be signed by Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and her EU counterpart.

Implementation of the TDCA trade provisions have been under way since 2000 with the aim of establishing a Free Trade Area (FTA) between South Africa and the EU by 2012. Total trade has increased over five fold, from R56.5 billion in 1994 to R313 billion in 2007.

The EU is the world's largest trading bloc and generates about 30 percent of global Gross domestic Product and it is the worlds biggest aid donor to poor countries, contributing approximately half of global aid.

Further to this, Europe remains the principal source of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in South Africa, accounting for around 80 percent of total FDI in 2005.