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SA, EU Consolidate Cooperation

BuaNews (Tshwane)

November 15, 2006

SA, EU Consolidate Cooperation

The European Union (EU) and South Africa have further consolidated their cooperation, agreeing to continue work on several strategic issues.

In this regard, the two adopted a joint statement in Belgium on Tuesday to advance their strategic partnership in the context of ensuring increased market and trade to mainly benefit South Africa in terms of economic growth.

Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma arrived in Brussels on Sunday for the 7th meeting of the South Africa-EU (SA-EU) Joint Co-operation Council (JCC).

The Department of Foreign Affairs said the partnership would also extend cooperation to social, cultural and environmental fields.

Spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa said the meeting also tabled the situation in the Middle East, the reform of the United Nations (UN), migration, World Trade Organisation (WTO) and HIV and AIDS.

In addition, South Africa and the EU are expected to start negotiations for a comprehensive update and revision of the Trade, Development and Cooperation Agreement (TDCA).

The TDCA has been the cornerstone of their relations since 2000.

"With respect to the review of the TDCA trade provisions, the parties agreed to address its relationship to the SADC- Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA EPA) negotiations.

The two also reached an agreement on further liberalisation of trade in the automotive sector, a move finally welcomed by European car manufacturers, following lengthy negotiations.

"The EU and South Africa welcomed this invaluable opportunity to work towards enhanced cooperation and look forward to continued dialogue in the future," Mr Mamoepa said.

The EU remains South Africa’s largest trade partner, accounting for 37 billion Euros worth of trade last year, just under 40 percent of South Africa’s total imports and exports.

Its Foreign Direct Investment into South Africa in 2004 totalled a further 4.6 billion Euros.

In addition, the EU has dedicated grants of 125 million Euros per annum through the European Programme for Reconstruction and Development.

Furthermore, the European Investment Bank (EIB) has been mandated with 825 million Euros for infrastructure investments in South Africa from 2000 to 2006.