3 November 2010
South Africa and Belgium have agreed to extend their co-operation in trade, education and other areas following a meeting between International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and visiting Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Steven Vanackere.
Speaking after her meeting with Vanackere in Pretoria on Tuesday, Nkoana-Mashabane said Belguim was an important partner that could help South Africa meet its key priorities.
Vanackere, who is also Belgium’s foreign minister, said his country was committed to working closely with South Africa on various projects that could help the country achieve its developmental objectives, especially in education and skills development.
Vanackere said that a mediation centre to be established at the University of Pretoria was testament to this, as well as to Belgium’s commitment to contributing to peace and stability on the continent.
During their meeting, Nkoana-Mashabane and Vanackere also agreed to consolidate trade relations between South Africa and Belgium.
During his six-day visit, Vanackere will also hold talks with Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, as well as the chairperson of Parliament’s portfolio committee on international relations.
His visit will end in Nelson Mandela Bay, where he inspect the Coega industrial development zone, as well as the site of the Electrawinds Farm, the first wind energy project on the continent to use Belgian wind technology.
Belgium is among South Africa’s top 10 trading partners and the country’s eighth-fastest growing export destination, according to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation.
South Africa’s exports to Belgium mainly comprise fruit, rough diamonds, iron, bituminous coal and other ores, and manganese dioxide.
Belgium is also an important entry point for SA exports bound for countries both within and outside of the European Union, the number one destination for South African exports.