3 April 2007
The European Union (EU) is finalising an agreement that will see it contribute more than R9-billion toward its development programme in South Africa over the next six years.
According to Foreign Affairs Director-General Ayanda Ntsaluba, the development programme will take place between 2007 and 2013, and will focus on areas such as skills development, small business support and strengthening the capacity of institutions in the country.
Ntsaluba met with the European Union director-general for development Stefan Manservisi last week to negotiate the renewal of the Trade and Development Cooperation Agreement (TDCA) between South African and the EU.
The agreement seeks to build partnerships between SA and the EU in the areas of political dialogue, trade, development and economic cooperation.
According to Manservisi, the EU remains committed to assisting South Africa with its development, and the new financial assistance would make SA one of the top five recipients of European assistance.
Ntsaluba pointed out that the EU was a vital trading partner, accounting for around 40% of SA’s imports and exports, and that last year alone the EU’s foreign direct investment into South Africa amounted to over R44.5-billion.
He explained that when the agreement was conceived, all parties had agreed to include a compulsory mid-term review after five years of implementation.
“We have already made substantial progress in negotiations regarding texts and trust that the TDCA will soon reflect the depth of relations that has led us to begin discussing the establishment of a strategic partnership between the EU and South Africa,” Ntsaluba said.
He added that both parties had identified the potential for broadening their co-operation through the review of the TDCA and had therefore seized the opportunity to discuss issues of global concern, including the Millennium Development Goals.
“We will, after this session, discuss issues involving the African agenda, non-proliferation and development co-operation,” Ntsaluba said, adding that they were preparing for a meeting of the ministerial troika of the EU with South Africa to be held in May.
Manservisi explained that at the end of the current implementation of the agreement, 95% of South African goods would enter the EU duty free and around 80% of the EU’s goods would be exempt from duties when entering South Africa.
“We are already well advanced and I am confident that our relations can be strengthened and further opportunities created for the region,” he said.