SA, Czech recommits to boost economic relations

South Africa and the Czech Republic have recommitted themselves to further enhance trade and economic relations despite the current financial economic crisis negatively affecting many countries.

The two countries represented by Deputy Trade and Industry (dti) Minister Elizabeth Thabethe and her counterpart Pavel Solcl signed a declaration to strengthening cooperation between South Africa and the Czech Republic on Tuesday.

The two countries made the commitment at the end of the second session of the Czech Republic -South Africa Joint Committee for Economic Cooperation meeting.

“We shared the view that at the time, when the current financial and economic crisis negatively affects many countries, concerted international efforts are needed to create a more conducive environment for economic and business cooperation. The two sides shared the view that solutions should also be sought in the promotion of multilateral and inter-regional trade,” said Thabethe.

Both countries reiterated the role of the Joint Committee and committed to promoting co-operation between business enterprises of the two sides and to oversee development of bilateral economic co-operation in various fields.

The meeting also stressed the importance of the strategic partnership between the European Union (EU) and South Africa.

The meeting also noted that opportunities and investment between the EU and Southern African region, including a comprehensive and balanced Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the EU and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) were supported.

“Following the Joint Communique, adopted at the occasion of the fifth EU-South Africa Summit, held in Brussels on 18 September 2012, we hope that pending issues in the negotiations can be resolved and the EPA could be finalised as soon as possible,” she said.

Both the two countries agreed to exert efforts to enhance the performance of bilateral trade on a mutually beneficial basis and to encourage the private sectors of South Africa and the Czech Republic to participate in efforts to boost trade.

“In an effort to diversify bilateral trade, we have proposed to the Czech side to further develop bilateral trade in other potential products, such as machinery, filtering or purifying machinery, boilers, electrical equipment, textiles, automotive and automotive components, furniture, plates, sheet, strip and foil, nickel alloy, wines and fruit juices and processed food,” added Thabethe.

She further said that the two countries agreed that the promotion of mutual trade and economic cooperation were the objective shared by the two governments.

Thabethe said: “The Czech side informed us that South Africa was included in a targeted group covering so-called “Countries of Interest” in the “2012-2020 Export Strategy of the Czech Republic,” approved by the Czech Government.

This new Export Strategy was the main instrument for diversifying and increasing the Czech foreign trade and promoting mutual trade, investment and other economic activities with countries included in the said document.

Finally the South African delegation expressed concern about the Czech Republic/Schengen visa regime affecting business trips to Czech Republic and the Czech side took note and will inform the relevant authorities.

The Czech Republic would join the Schengen Agreement on 21 December 2007.

Schengen States are a group of European countries which have signed an agreement to allow free circulation of people within the territory of the member countries.
At present, there are 22 Schengen countries, all in Europe. – SAnews.gov.za