15 October 2013
President Jacob Zuma has hailed French President Francois Hollande’s first state visit to the country as a milestone in relations between South Africa and France.
“President Hollande’s visit has further solidified the existing relations between our two countries. We have strengthened cooperation in existing areas and opened doors in new areas, as evidenced by agreements signed here,” Zuma said following the meeting between the two presidents in Pretoria on Monday.
He said cooperation between the two countries cuts across a broad spectrum of areas including defence, development cooperation, science and technology, arts and culture, energy and agriculture.
“We have also agreed that we need together to develop trade in a balanced manner. We will both address the South Africa-France Business Forum later today to encourage our business sector on both sides to use opportunities opened up by this cordial relationship between the two countries.
“South African companies in particular are looking forward to opportunities to increase their exports into the French market.”
Zuma said he had briefed Hollande on the government’s efforts to stimulate the economy through the National Development Plan (NDP).
“We produced the National Development Plan so that the country could have one common long term plan guiding our efforts to develop an inclusive economy, create jobs, enhance the capacity of the state and promote partnerships throughout its society. It outlines what type of South Africa we want to be by the year 2030,” he said.
The plan includes key economic instruments such as the New Growth Path and the Industrial Policy Action Plan, aimed at boosting economic activities in infrastructure development, agriculture, mining and beneficiation, manufacturing, the green economy and tourism.
“Skills development forms a key part of our National Development Plan Vision 2030. I am pleased that our technical skills cooperation component with France includes strengthening skills development, professional training, higher education as well as research and development,” he said.
Hollande and Zuma encouraged the business community in both countries to further expand cooperation, noting the ongoing investments by French companies in major infrastructure projects in the country.
Zuma said France was a “reliable development partner for South Africa” and had extensively supported reconstruction and development efforts. “We appreciate the ongoing development support.”