South Africa – EU summit strengthens bilateral relations

Friday, November 16, 2018

President Cyril Ramaphosa says the seventh South Africa-European Union Summit which wrapped up on Thursday has served as fertile ground to accelerate investment and strengthen bilateral relations.

“The outcomes of this summit support and reinforce the initiatives we have launched in South Africa to accelerate investment, create jobs and promote growth in our economy,” said President Ramaphosa.

The summit comes hot on the heels of the Presidential Jobs Summit and inaugural South Africa Investment Conference held in October.

The two events sought to boost the country’s economy, unlock job opportunities and tackle the triple challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality.

In light of this, President Ramaphosa said the summit was used to reinforce ties with Europe and to obtain the EU’s support for South Africa’s economic and development agenda.

“Together with the EU, we have committed ourselves to exploring opportunities for investment, technical assistance, and the improvement of business and investment climates to promote sustainable development,” said President Ramaphosa.

The EU is South Africa’s largest trading partner and largest foreign investor, with trade between South Africa and the EU increasing nearly four-fold since 2000.

Over 2 000 EU companies operate in South Africa creating more than 500 000 direct and indirect jobs.

During the summit, SA and the EU agreed to strengthen cooperation on investment in support of economic development, infrastructure, industrialisation, skills development, small business development and entrepreneurship.

The summit comes amid a recommendation by the joint constitutional review committee on Thursday that section 25 of the Constitution be amended to allow for expropriation of land without compensation.

On this, President Ramaphosa emphasised that South Africa’s focus is on maintaining “investor confidence, promoting agricultural production, improving food security and reducing poverty”.

SA calls on EU to review Zimbabwe sanctions
During discussions on peace and security in the respective regions, the summit discussed Zimbabwe.

South Africa called on the EU to review its position on Zimbabwe and move towards lifting sanctions.

South Africa made the case that Zimbabwe is on a path of great reform and needs to be supported.

Non-permanent member seat at UNSC
In 2019, South Africa will take up its non-permanent member seat at the UN Security Council for the period 2019-2020.

The summit agreed that this presents an opportunity to enhance cooperation on peace, security, conflict prevention and other global issues.

“We will identify opportunities for concrete operational cooperation, dedicating special attention to advancing the global women, peace and security agenda, especially in promoting meaningful participation of women in peace processes,” said President Ramaphosa.

Global peace, stability
On global peace and stability, the summit welcomed Iran’s continued commitment to the full and effective implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The summit further called on the remaining parties to the JCPOA to continue to honour their commitments under the Agreement.

Concluding his remarks, President Ramaphosa said South Africa looks forward to hosting the 8th SA-EU Summit in the near future.