SA, France bolster relations

Pretoria – Top officials from South Africa and France have met in Pretoria to map a way forward on how to deepen political and economic relations between the two countries.
International Relation’s Director-General Jerry Matjila hosted his French counterpart Pierre Sellal for a two-day South Africa-France Forum for Political Dialogue meeting.

The forum is the primary formal mechanism for the coordination of relations between the two countries.

“One of the objectives of the Forum for Political Dialogue is to consider ways and means of not only strengthening bilateral trade but ensuring that it is more balanced,” International Relation’s spokesperson Clayson Monyela said.

The two-day meeting, which closed on Friday, was preceded by preparatory meetings between expert officials on UN issues, human rights and development cooperation.

According to Monyela, the two directors-general discussed the strengthening and deepening of bilateral political and economic relations; increased development cooperation; developments on the continent of Africa, and issues of global governance such as the reform of the UN Security Council and international financial institutions.

Monyela said views were also exchanged on other matters of mutual concern, including developments in the Middle East.

France is a major trading and development cooperation partner and source of tourism for South Africa.

Total trade increased consistently from R11.4 billion in 2000 to R31.2 billion in 2008 before it suffered a significant decline in 2009 due to the global economic downturn. Total trade between the two countries improved slightly to about R27.5 billion in 2010, with a significant surplus in France’s favour.

There are more than 170 French-owned companies or subsidiaries of French companies operating in South Africa, accounting for 25 000 employment opportunities.

In strengthening South Africa-France relations, the two directors-general further discussed the cultural seasons that the two countries will present: France in South Africa in 2012, and South Africa in France in 2013.

While centred on cultural exchanges, the seasons will also include elements of promoting trade and investment, tourism and cooperation in science and technology.

Source: BuaNews – 5 Feb 2012