Germany and South Africa have agreed to work more closely in areas such as climate action, trade, development and measures to address terrorism, said Chancellor Angela Merkel at a press conference after she held talks with President Jacob Zuma in Berlin on 10 November. It was during the South African leader’s official visit to Germany and the first time the two leaders had held direct bilateral talks.
Though relations between the two countries have been friendly, there was still room for improvement, Merkel said. The German leader was particularly happy with trade ties between Germany and South Africa. “Our trade figures just keep rising. We will see an all-time high this year with trade worth 15.5 billion euros,” said Chancellor Merkel.
In 2014, bilateral trade was worth 13.2 billion euros. South Africa imported goods worth about 8.3 billion euros from Germany and exported goods worth 4.9 billion euros to Germany.
President Zuma also praised the intensive trade and business relations between the two countries and disclosed that new investment opportunities were being discussed, especially in South Africa’s maritime sector. Zuma said he extensively discussed the migrant crisis in Europe with Chancellor Merkel, saying that South Africa understood the refugee crisis being experienced by the European Union. Both leaders agreed that an enduring solution to the refugee crisis lies in fighting its root causes.
Merkel and Zuma also discussed bilateral co-operation in areas such as energy, science and research, and vocational education and training. “We would like to see more contacts, with interns or young South Africans coming to Germany to study or undertake research for a doctorate,” stressed the Chancellor.
As part of the activities accompanying President Zuma’s visit, a special session of the German-South African Business Forum was held in Berlin. At the meeting, attended by high-level representatives of companies from both countries as well as their diplomats, discussions were held on how the conditions for their economic relations can be improved. The event was opened by the German ambassador to South Africa, Horst Brammer, and the keynote address was delivered by South Africa’s Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies.
About 600 German companies are doing business in South Africa and they employ more than 90,000 people, which is beneficial for both countries.
During his two-day visit from 9 to 10 November, President Zuma also met Federal President Joachim Gauck and attended a seminar on vocational training in Berlin, as well as taking part in an event organised by Safri, the sub-Saharan Africa initiative of German industry.
President Zuma was accompanied on the state visit by a delegation including high-ranking members of his government, among whom were seven ministers. It was the South African leader’s first official visit to Germany.
Photo: © Bundesregierung/Steffen Kugler