German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s arrived in Pretoria on Wednesday in the first leg of her 4-day trip to South Africa and Angola. Top on her agenda on the visit is increased economic co-operation with both countries, say analysts.
South Africa is Germany’s biggest trading partner in Africa and Angola, with its mineral riches, promises more opportunities for German companies.
South Africa is Germany’s largest trading partner in Africa while Germany is the third largest source of overseas visitors to South Africa.
In fact, South Africa receives two-thirds of all German investments on the continent with about 600 German companies, including BMW, Mercedes and Siemens, active in the country. Total trade reached €14.5 billion over the 12 months to the end of November 2019; with German exports to South Africa amounting to €7.7 billion while South African exports Germany stood at €6.8 billion.
South Africa and Germany’s strategic relationship is governed by 72 bilateral agreements, providing a legal framework for cooperation in many areas.
President Ramaphosa and Chancellor Merkel will discuss, among other issues, how to intensify their countries’ trade relations. The two leaders will also co-chair the South Africa-Germany Business Roundtable accompanied by their respective ministers and business delegations.
Beyond business, Merkel and Ramaphosa will also engage on how to collaborate on the international arena on issues such as world peace, security and climate change since both Germany and South Africa are currently non-permanent members of the UN Security Council.
Moreover, South Africa is the only African member of the G20 and is the co-chair of the G20-Africa Advisory Group, which oversees the “Compact with Africa Initiative”.
Chancellor Merkel will leave for Angola on Friday where she will hold talks with President Gonçalves Lourenço on the political and economic relations between both countries.
Germany recognises Angola’s constructive role in regional cooperation and will express support for Lourenço government’s reform course, particularly the fight against corruption.
The development advocacy group ONE has greeted the chancellor’s trip as it would promote Germany’s increased economic engagement with both countries. The organisation noted that in comparison with China, German companies were investing too little in Africa.
In view of recent allegations of corruption against the Angolan entrepreneur and daughter of the immediate past president, Isabel dos Santos, the organisation demanded that the issues of transparency and the fight against corruption should be given priority in the talks with the Angola partners.
“Good governance must create a stable economic climate for countries to become interesting for foreign investors. German companies want to avoid major risks and only take do business where they can invest long-term, where the legislation is transparent and where they do not have to fear corruption,” ONE said.
Chancellor Merkel will return home on Saturday.