By – SAnews.gov.za
Pretoria – President Jacob Zuma will this morning begin his state visit aimed at boosting trade and investment relations between South Africa and France.
President Zuma arrived in Paris on Sunday evening for the state visit which is being held under the theme: “Working together as equal partners to explore opportunities and address the challenges of the 21st Century”.
The Presidency said the visit will provide a platform for both countries to improve cooperation in various areas including trade and investment, energy, maritime, agriculture, science and technology, education and skills development, arts and culture, defence, development cooperation and international relations.
“Boosting economic relations and trade are high up on the agenda of the visit. France is an important trade, investment and tourism partner for South Africa.”
Stats indicate that in 2015, trade was standing at R33.6 billion between the two countries.
France remains an important source of foreign direct investment for South Africa with an estimated investment volume of over R24 billion.
France is also a major contributor to the South African inward tourism – with a total of 128 438 tourists from France that visited South Africa in 2015, according to the Department of Tourism.
Today, President Zuma will meet with President François Hollande before the South Africa-France Business Forum.
President Zuma and his delegation will use the forum to encourage French business to invest further in South Africa, with an emphasis on the expansion of investment and trade particularly in the sectors of agro-processing, financial services and defence industry.
The state visit will further see a number of agreements in areas such as agriculture, arts and higher education signed.
The state visit also coincides with the commemoration of the 100 years of South Africa’s participation in World War I in which thousands of its troops from the infantry brigade died during the Delville Wood battle.
As such, the President will preside over the commemoration of the Centenary of the Battle on Tuesday and receive the digitised Rivonia Trial dictabelts from the French government.
President Zuma is accompanied by International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane; Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies; Defence and Military Vetarans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula; Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande; Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa; Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana, Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi and Defence and Military Veterans Deputy Minister Kebby Maphatsoe.