South Africa and the United Kingdom (UK) are looking to increase economic and trade ties by focusing on exporting high-value-added goods to Britain, the Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said.
Following a bi-lateral meeting with UK foreign secretary William Hague, Nkoana-Mashabane said trade had improved between the two countries last year after declining 37 per cent from 2008 to 2009, amid the global financial crisis.
In the first 10 months of last year, South African exports to the UK had increased 10,7 per cent while UK imports were up 30,6 per cent.
Last year, the two countries agreed at a bi-lateral forum to double trade between the two nations by 2015.
While the UK remains South Africa’s top source of overseas tourist arrivals, with 453 000 arrivals in 2010, the country is also providing support to set up a Free Trade Area in Africa and providing development assistance through its Department for International Development.
Trade between the two countries increased 77 per cent between 2001 and 2008, growing from R42 billion to R74,5 billion.
Nkoana-Mashabane said there were more than 300 UK companies operating in South Africa and several South African ones in the UK, pointing out that the South African government wanted to encourage UK companies to invest in South Africa.
Hague said South Africa was a “truly global player” across a range of issues, including non-proliferation, climate change and conflict resolution.
Hague and Nkoana-Mashabane also discussed several African and Middle East issues, including the conference on Somalia held in London and said South Africa had a key role to play in tackling piracy in the Mozambican channel.
Hague said Britain was in favour of permanent representation for Africa at the UN Security Council.