Zuma looking to improve ties with Brazil

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Sao Paulo - President Jacob Zuma has arrived in Brazil for his first official state visit to the Latin American country.

The President is expected to, among other things, exchange ideas on combating social challenges such as poverty, unemployment, human settlement challenge, with his counterpart, President Lula da Silva.

"President Jacob Zuma's state visit takes place within the context of consolidating South-South cooperation, strengthening the existing bilateral ties and regional partnership and deepening cooperation on the trilateral and multilateral levels between South Africa and Brazil," said the Presidency.

Zuma is also expected to participate in a roundtable business meeting with more than 100 business executives in Sao Paulo with the aim to increase trade and investment between both countries and also deliver a key note address at a luncheon following a soccer presentation on the 2010 World Cup.

Other discussion will be centred around the re-launch the South Aafrica-Brazil Joint Commission as a vehicle for servicing bilateral relations.

They will also explore possible trilateral cooperation between SA and Brazil in Africa and Latin America.

"Both South Africa and Brazil are committed to and involved in triangular cooperation in third countries in their respective regions," said the Presidency.

Zuma will be accompanied by the Ministers of International Relations Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Sport and Recreation Reverend Makensi Stofile and Trade and Industry Rob Davies.

In this regard, it is expected that a Memorandum of Understanding between the respective Departments of Trade and Industry on the Promotion of Trade and Investment and an agreement on Sports Cooperation for the years 2009-2011 be signed after bilateral discussions.

Bilateral relations between the two countries have always been close.

Recently Brazil initiated a new South-South foreign policy aimed at strengthening integration between the major powers of the developing world, among others.

The two countries have also created an India-Brazil-South Africa alliance (IBSA) to change geography, loosen unequal ties with the Triad, which includes North America, Western Europe and Asia Pacific, and establish balanced partnerships.

"The relationship between the two countries has evolved remarkably over the past ten years. Both countries face serious challenges of unemployment, unequal distribution of income and sluggish economic growth," explained International Relations and Cooperation spokesperson Nomfanelo Kota.

In an endeavour to strengthen economic relations with Brazil, Kota said numerous export and investment missions to Brazil have been facilitated since November 2005.

"Different sectors were represented in these missions, ranging from mining, wine, information and telecommunications (ICT), auto, capital equipment and arts and crafts sectors."

According to official data, in 2008 total trade between Brazil and South Africa reached US$ 2.52 billion from US$ 2.2 billion in 2007.

"We have witnessed a remarkable increase of 48 percent of South African exports to Brazil in 2008, which translates in a 25 percent trade deficit reduction," said Kota.