SA: Deputy President arrives in Iran

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa

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Pretoria – Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa is in Tehran, Iran, where he is leading a high level South African delegation on a working visit aimed at strengthening relations between the two countries.

The visit will see the Deputy President and his Iranian counterpart, Es’hag Jahangiri, inaugurate and co-chair the South Africa-Iran Business Council, which is intended to further reinforce the existing trade and investment opportunities in finance, agriculture and energy.

During the 12th Joint Commission held in May, the two countries agreed to elevate and consolidate trade, investment and economic relations and concluded action plans in the finance, trade, agriculture and energy sectors.

The two sides will also explore opportunities for foreign direct investment, create trading opportunities for South African investors while identifying skills development and training opportunities for South Africans in various Iranian sectors, said the Presidency on Saturday.

“The visit to Iran is aimed at consolidating political and economic relations between the two countries in trade and investment, energy, agriculture, education and skills development,” said the high office.

Deputy President Ramaphosa’s delegation includes the Minister of Water and Sanitation Nomvula Mokonyane; Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Nomaindiya Mfeketo; Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources Godfrey Oliphant; Deputy Minister of Finance Mcebisi Hubert Jonas; Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Bheki Cele and Deputy Minister of Tourism Tokozile Xasa.

The delegation also includes a sizeable business group, representatives of state-owned companies and agencies such as Eskom, Mintek, the Council of Geo-science, the Financial Intelligence Centre as well as the South African Revenue Service.

South Africa considers Iran to be an important friend and partner and recognises the important role Iran assumes regionally and internationally within global governance and multilateral architecture.

At the bilateral level, the two countries enjoy cooperation across varied fields, including arts and culture, agriculture, education and health.

However, there has been a decline in trade affected by sanctions, resulting in the reduction of South African exports to Iran. Trade dipped from R1.27 billion in 2008 to R270 million in 2014.

During his visit, Deputy President Ramaphosa will also pay a courtesy call on Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and the Speaker of Parliament Ali larinjani.

This is part of consolidating regional cooperation on the reform of global political and economic governance, including the transformation of the United Nations Security Council.

Deputy President Ramaphosa will also meet with the Iranian Minister of Finance and Economy and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Mines.

At the conclusion of his visit, Deputy President Ramaphosa and his delegation will visit and tour the MAPNA Factory, an Iranian enterprise which operates in the construction and development of thermal power plants, independent power plants, oil and gas as well as rail traction projects.

The Deputy President is expected to return to South Africa on Wednesday.