SA, Spain to boost political, economic ties

Monday, February 16, 2009

Pretoria - Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Sue van der Merwe is currently in Spain where she is expected to hold political, economic and trade discussions with Spanish Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Angel Lossada.

The pair will hold discussions within the context of South Africa's priority to consolidate North-South relations

Issues on the agenda are expected to include, among others, a briefing regarding developments in the European Union including the impact of the global financial crisis on the Union and ways in which this will be addressed.

African peace and security as well as conflict resolution initiatives including Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Sudan, Somalia and Western Sahara as well as the Middle East and the implementation of the Roadmap are also on the agenda.

The Deputy Minister is also expected to hold discussions with Minister for Interior Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, the Secretary General of Spanish International Co-operation Agency (AECI) and the President of the Royal Spanish Football Federation.

Ms van der Merwe will also address Casa Africa which is a public consortium created within the framework of Spain's Africa Plan in the Canary Islands.

Casa Africa, is a space for meeting and open exchange among citizens of Africa and Spain. It aims to promote awareness of their respective realities, enhance overall Spanish-African co-operation and also African-European dialogue between cultures.

Casa Africa is an initiative between the Spanish Ministry of External Affairs and Co-operation (MAEC) and the Spanish Agency for International Co-operation for Development (AECI), the Canary Island Regional Government, the island administrations of Fuenteventura, Lanzarote, Gran Canaria and Tenerife and the Las Palmas de Gran Canaria Town Hall, all of whom are represented through a Council of Directors.

Spain is South Africa's 9th most important export market. In 2007, South Africa's exports to Spain totalled Euro 1.5 billion (an increase of nine percent on the 2006 figure), the country's imports from Spain grew by four percent to Euro 800 million in the same year.

South Africa's main exports were coal, fish, fresh fruits, iron and steel products, mechanical appliances and automotive parts and accessories.

The most important products imported from Spain were vehicles, parts and accessories, machinery and mechanical appliances, electrical machinery and equipment, furniture and related products and plastics.

Spain could be considered as a source of Foreign Direct Investment in the following sectors infrastructure, tourism, agro-processing and renewable energy.

Seven of the world largest construction companies are Spanish. The largest one in the world, ACS Dragados, has a stake in South Africa's Platinum Highway. The company was also part of the consortium that lost the bid for the Gautrain to the French consortium Bombela.

Ms van der Merwe is expected to return to South Africa on Thursday.