SA, Mexico sign MoU to strengthen relations

Friday, February 20, 2009

Cape Town - Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and her Mexican counterpart Patricia Espinosa on Thursday signed a Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen co-operation between the two countries.

Speaking to the media after signing the agreement, Dlamini-Zuma said the interaction was a sequel to Mexico's recent declaration to forge strong ties with African countries.

"We were very happy to hear our colleagues from Mexico have taken a very conscious decision to co-operate and to work very closely with African countries," she said, indicating that South Africa committed itself to working with Mexico and assisting wherever it could.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, the two ministers consolidated their bilateral relations in, economic and trade during the meeting.

The meeting, the department said, took place within the context of South Africa's priority to strengthen relations with Latin America with a view to consolidating the developmental agenda and deepening South-South cooperation.

Ms Espinosa, whose visit was the first to the country by a Mexican government minister, said the two countries had a strong foundation on which to improve relations.

"We are building on a strong base that we have developed over the last 15 years," she said.

On the economic front, Ms Espinosa said they had agreed to seek a better balance in bilateral trade.

"South Africa is the most important trade partner of Mexico in Africa, but there is clearly a great potential to enhance our exchanges. In this regard, both our governments will encourage reciprocal missions of business delegations," she told reporters.

South Africa and Mexico are recognised as newly industrialised countries.

As the word's developing nations are trying to consolidate their position in the global economy in response to the global economic melt-down the two countries are forging new trade alliances to keep their economies afloat.

The two ministers also signed a Memorandum of Understanding to establish a Joint Bi-National Commission (BNC) and an Agreement on the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income.

The establishment of a BNC would allow both countries the opportunity to review bilateral cooperation projects and to identify cooperation in new areas.

Alongside South Africa, Mexico is one of the five developing countries invited to participate in the G-8 outreach sessions held on the margins of the annual G-8 Summit.

The economy of Mexico is 10th to 12th largest in the world. In spite of its unprecedented macroeconomic stability, which has reduced inflation and interest rates to record lows and has increased per capita income, enormous gaps remain between the urban and the rural population.

As an export-oriented economy, more than 90 percent of Mexican trade is under free trade agreements with more than 40 countries, including the European Union, Japan, Israel, and much of Central and South America.

With South Africa, trade between the two countries has been growing at a steady pace.

There is a noticeable development in the increase of diversification on traded goods and most importantly, trade between the two countries is complementary.

Main exports to Mexico are iron and steel products, machinery and equipment, metal ores, chemicals, cereals, and raw hides and skins.

Imports from Mexico include wheeled tractors, machinery and equipment, paper and paperboard and chemical products.