29 October 2010
International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane has called for the fast-tracking of the Economic Co-operation and Trade Agreement between South Africa and the Republic of Congo.
The agreement, which was mooted after South Africa’s trade mission to Brazzaville in May 2010, would see the two countries facilitating mutual business opportunities in fields including trade, tourism, transport, energy and agriculture.
Nkoana-Mashabane was speaking at the launch of the first South Africa-Republic of Congo Joint Commission for Co-operation in Cape Town on Thursday.
During the first sitting of the commisson, a co-operation agreement on agriculture, fisheries and forestry will be signed. The agreement hopes to promote bilateral trade while addressing food shortages in the Congo.
Nkoana-Mashabane said that although months of preparatory meetings had taken place between the two countries, not enough progress had been made in implementation.
“We must prove to our peoples that our cooperation can bring about a tangible improvement in their daily lives,” she said. “Such projects should be the nucleus and catalyst of greater joint undertakings in the future.”
A twinning agreement between South Africa’s Steve Biko Academic Hospital and the University Hospital of the Republic of Congo was also signed, opening the way for the two countries to work together in many areas of health care.
The minister thanked Congo for its support when South Africa was in the running for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council. She also congratulated Congo for successfully hosting its 50th independence celebrations.
Diplomatic relations between South Africa and Congo date from 1993, with cooperation between the two countries formalised by the signing of the umbrella General Cooperation Agreement in 2003.
Representing Congo at the inaugural sitting of the joint commission were Basil Ekouebe, Congo’s minister of foreign affairs, and Rigobert Maboundou, Congo’s minister of agriculture.