Trade - []

According to International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana Mashabane says South Africa is aiming to boost trade with African states by half a trillion rand before the end of the current administration.

The Minister said this when she briefed the media ahead of delivering the department’s Budget Vote at the Old Assembly Chamber, in Parliament, on Tuesday.

“We are targeting half a trillion trade with Africa by 2019.”

The Minister said the increase in trade and investment relations in both the African continent and the Asia and Middle East markets was linked to the growth of South Africa’s diplomatic missions in those areas.

She said the same applied to SA’s traditional trade partners like the Americas and Europe.

“With additional economic diplomacy efforts and enhanced national coordination, South African trade with the world can reach R2 trillion by the end of this administration.

“Without a doubt, an unprecedented trade expansion,” she said.

She said SA’s diplomatic presence in the continent has brought tangible benefits in the form of economic growth and job creation.

The Minister said the work of the department has increased the country’s presence on the continent from seven diplomatic missions in 1994 to 47 in 2015.

“Consequently, South Africa’s trade in the continent increased 39 times from R11.4 billion in 1994 to R385 billion in 2015.

“In 1994, trade with Asia and the Middle East combined was approximately R760 billion for Asia and R116 billion with Middle East,” the Minister said.

SA signs eight MoUs with Iran

Meanwhile, the Minister said President Jacob Zuma’s recent visit to the Islamic Republic of Iran was a success.

She said Iran, which has enjoyed relations with SA’s liberation movement for many years – also cutting ties with the then apartheid government – had signed eight Memoranda of Understanding during the visit, which also signified the readiness to diversify trade between the two countries.

“President Zuma and his counterpart, President Hassan Rouhani, undertook to take cooperation to a higher level in the fields of trade, education and skills development; science and technology; energy; including petrochemical gas exploration and refining capacity; agriculture; mining and mineral beneficiation; infrastructure development and transport; finance, banking and insurance; and tourism,” she said.

She said the two leaders also agreed to intensify the call for the reform of the United Nations, especially the UN Security Council, so that the interests of developing countries can be catered for.

Meanwhile, the Minister said the Budget Vote was being tabled under the theme “championing an African continent, which is prosperous, peaceful, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and united and which aspires to a world that is just and equitable”.

The Minister’s budget vote was also anchored on several activities through SADC and the African Union (AU) Commission, including sustaining peace, security and stability, and championing economic integration as envisaged in the AU’s agenda 2063.