Zuma, Putin push for increased trade

17 May 2013

South African President Jacob Zuma and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the strengthening of economic ties and expansion of trade between the two BRICS partners during their meeting in Sochi, Russia on Thursday.

According to The Voice of Russia, Putin told journalists after the meeting that trade between Russia and South Africa had increased by more than 66% in 2012.

According to news agency RIA Novosti, Putin also reaffirmed Russia’s readiness to help South Africa develop its nuclear power industry – a possibility he first raised in March, when he visited South Africa for the 5th summit of the BRICS grouping made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

He also said the two countries would be working together on other energy projects, including projects involving renewable energy sources, RIA Novosti reported.

Zuma was on a two-day working visit to Russia accompanied by a delegation of Cabinet ministers, including International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, Tourism Minister Marthinus Van Schalkwyk, State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa and Energy Minister Dipuo Peters.

During Putin’s visit to South Africa in March, SA and Russia signed agreements in the fields of education, energy, defence, fisheries, mineral resources, transport and science and technology.

In addition, a number of business-to-business contracts were signed between South African and Russian companies.

On Monday, Russian presidential special envoy for cooperation with African countries Mikhail Margelov told news agency Itar-Tass that Zuma’s visit showed the seriousness of the relationship that exists between the two countries.

“Russia’s participation in the BRICS summit [hosted by South Africa in March] and the talks between President Vladimir Putin and the leaders of 20 African countries demonstrates that the motto saying ‘Russia returns to Africa’ is being realised,” Margelov said.

“South Africa plays one of the key roles in this aspect.”

SAinfo reporter and SAnews.gov.za