SA to strengthen relations with Bangladesh, Nepal

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Pretoria - Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Nomaindiya Mfeketo, is to pay working visits to Bangladesh and Nepal.

The visits,  scheduled from Wednesday to Friday, is the first ever by a Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation to both countries since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1994.

“The visits to both Bangladesh and Nepal highlights the importance that South Africa holds in further developing and consolidating bilateral and multilateral relations with both countries,” the Department of International Relations and Cooperation spokesperson Clayson Monyela said.

Both Bangladesh and Nepal have significant multilateral profiles being major troop contributors to United Nations Peace Keeping Operations (PKO).

Nepal is host to the Secretariat for the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and Bangladesh hosts the permanent secretariat of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC).

“Identifying areas of potential cooperation and expanding trade relations are foreseen as tangible outcomes of the visit,” said Monyela.

According to the department, draft Bilateral Air Services agreements are presently under consideration by both Bangladesh and Nepal, while South Africa is considering a draft Visa Waiver Agreement for Diplomatic and Official Passport holders with both countries.

During the visit, Deputy Minister Mfeketo will attend the Third Senior Officials Meeting between South Africa and Bangladesh which will take place on Wednesday, in Dhaka.

This event will be co-chaired by the Deputy Director-General for Asia and Middle East, Dr Anil Sooklal, together with his Bangladeshi counterpart.

It is expected that the Deputy Minister will pay a courtesy call on the Foreign Minister, the Minister of Home Affairs and the Minister of Expatriates Welfare and Overseas Employment.

“The visit to Bangladesh further provides the opportunity to address the challenges around migration issues and to finding constructive solutions,” said Monyela.

Bangladesh has the potential of becoming a significant trading partner for South Africa with bilateral trade and economic relations between the two sides sharply increasing in recent years.

In 2014, South African exports to Bangladesh almost doubled over the figure of 2013 to reach R852 million. Bangladesh imports into South Africa reached a new high of R745 million in 2014.

The visit to Nepal will underscore the continued commitment of the South African government towards supporting their internal reconciliation and nation building endeavours.

In Nepal, the Deputy Minister will make a courtesy call on the Minister of Foreign Affairs as well as interact with the Nepal Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Constituent Assembly, the Secretariat of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and the Nepalese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI). - SAnews.gov.za

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