Pretoria - International Relations and Cooperation Deputy Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim will on Monday co-chair the 2nd South Africa-Switzerland Annual Consultations with the State Secretary of the Confederation of Switzerland, Michael Amb~hl.
The department said consultations take place within the context of the North-South Dialogue - an endeavour to deepen bilateral relations between the two countries.
South Africa and Switzerland will seek to make an overview of the current state of bilateral relations in the areas of science and technology, cultural co-operation proposals and signing of the visa agreement.
"In addition, the second session will afford the two countries [an opportunity] to exchange views on the African Agenda and the conflicts on the African continent about multilateral issues including the United Nations Security Council, Human Rights Council and Durban Review," the department said.
The Annual Consultations forum was borne out of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between South Africa and Switzerland in May 2008. During the first level consultations held in Bern, a strong partnership between the two countries was reaffirmed together with the shared commitment to the values of democracy, good governance, peace and security and development on the African continent, especially with regards to South Sudan and the DRC.
Relations between South Africa and Switzerland are based upon growing bilateral and economic ties. In recent years many bilateral contacts have taken place at a higher level, providing excellent opportunities to discuss relations between the two countries.
During the 2008/2009 financial year, South Africa's exports to Switzerland peaked at around R15.4 billion, whereas Swiss imports to South Africa peaked at around R 6.19 billion, with total trade peaking at around R21 to 22 billion.
The trade balance is heavily in South Africa's favour, with a surplus of R9.2 billion. Trade with Switzerland accounts for 1.53 percent of all total South African exports. There are 150 Swiss companies investing in South Africa, including Holcim, Nestle, Credit Suisse and Schindler Lifts and there are also a few South African companies in Switzerland, such as South African Airways, De Beers, Sappi and Investec.
Swiss products imported to South Africa are chemicals, vehicles, aircrafts and mechanical appliances. South African products exported to Switzerland include minerals, wood pulp, ammunition, precious and semi precious metals, prepared foodstuffs and beverages.