According to SAnews.gov.za South Africa is set to strengthen bilateral political and economic relations with three central European countries – Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland.
International Relations and Cooperation Deputy Minister Luwellyn Landers is scheduled to undertake a working visit to three countries from Monday until Thursday.
“South Africa views the region as a potential partner in addressing the country’s national priorities and [seeks to deepen] cooperation in the fields of science and technology, education, agriculture and trade,” the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) said on Monday.
This year marks 25 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between South Africa and the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland.
Consultations this week will provide an opportunity to assess and review the status of bilateral relations and also agree on new areas of potential cooperation.
Relations between South Africa and Czech Republic are governed by the South Africa- Czech Republic Joint Committee for Economic Cooperation, which aims to promote and deepen bilateral trade and economic cooperation.
Bilateral trade between the two countries currently stands at R9.6 billion, ranking the Czech Republic as a significant trading partner for South Africa.
Bilateral relations between South Africa and Hungary are currently governed through Annual Political Consultations and a Joint Economic Committee (JEC) signed in 1993.
Meanwhile, a Protocol on Consultations, signed in 1995, oversees bilateral political relations with Poland.
Bilateral trade between South Africa and all three central European countries has grown considerably since formal diplomatic relations were established.
South Africa’s combined total exports in 2015 to the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland amounted to R4.2 billion, while South African imports from the three countries combined amounted to R19.2 billion, a deficit of R15 billion.