SA, Japan review relations

Friday, March 1, 2013

Pretoria - South Africa and Japan have reiterated their commitment to strengthening bilateral relations at the12th South Africa-Japan Partnership Forum.

The meeting, which was co-chaired by Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Ebrahim Ebrahim and his Japanese counterpart Masaji Matsuyama in Pretoria on Friday, reviewed the scope of bilateral relations and discussed multilateral issues of mutual interest.

The forum looked at how they can encourage greater Japanese investment in South Africa in business ventures which create jobs and promote the transfer of skills; and how they can redefine and refocus on the priority areas of bilateral co-operation in order to maximise existing opportunities.

Speaking to the media after the meeting, Ebrahim said trade and investment formed the backbone of relations between the two countries.

“Structured bilateral meetings are important to ensure that partner countries regularly review the scope of their relationship and identify new areas of cooperation,” said Ebrahim, adding that it was for this reason that the forum played an important part in further strengthening and deepening the bilateral relationship between South Africa and Japan.

Matsuyama said Japan valued its relations with South Africa which covered a wide spectrum of areas such as the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) and the UN and Security Council.

Citing the humanitarian efforts by Rescue SA in Japan following their earthquake in March 2011, Matsuyama used the opportunity to reiterate their gratitude.

Under the African agenda, the two leaders discussed Japan’s contribution to Africa through the TICAD Process during the past 20 years.

It was then agreed that South Africa is to provide input for the TICAD V meeting which Japan will host in June 2013 in Yokohama.

They also discussed President Jacob Zuma’s envisaged visit to Japan following TICAD V sometime in June.

Both were satisfied with the progress made in their bilateral relations.

The two countries enjoy strong and mutually beneficial trade relations, with Japan being the third biggest trader with South Africa. In 2010 it marked the 100th year since the establishment of an official contact between South Africa and Japan.

There are about 108 Japanese businesses in South Africa, creating more than 100 000 jobs.

Companies such as the Toyota have invested and grown its business in the country.

Trade between the two countries is on the rise, with South Africa enjoying a surplus for the past five years.

Total trade once reached the high of R106 billion in 2008 prior to the global crisis of 2009, but subsequently declined by 43% to R60 billion.

Between 2010 and 2011, South Africa's exports experienced an average increase of 16% as compared to imports, which saw an average increase of 10% during the same period. -