25 October 2010
Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe concluded a two-day working visit to Syria last week, saying the two countries were working towards removing all remaining obstacles to increased trade and investment between them.
Motlanthe’s visit, which ended on Friday was aimed at strengthening existing relations between the two countries, and creating an enabling environment for increased trade and investment between the two states.
The trip, which coincided with that of a group from the Elders – formed by Nelson Mandela in 2007 – was also Pretoria’s effort to contribute to the resolution of the decades-old Palestine-Israel crisis.
The visit saw the signing of two cooperation agreements. Motlanthe’s spokesman, Thabo Masebe, said the agreements would enable businesses from South Africa and Syria to take advantage of the excellent diplomatic relations between the two countries to strengthen business ties and increase economic activity.
“South Africa and Syria will explore cooperation in the areas of education, information and communication technology, science and technology, agriculture and forestry, financial services and construction,” Masebe said.
A South Africa-Syria Business Forum was also established to create a platform for business people from both countries to work together on projects.
South Africa and Syria are now working on key outstanding agreements, including agreements for the protection of investments and the avoidance of double taxation. This will protect South African businesses wishing to invest in the Syrian economy. A business council will also be formed.
During the visit, Motlanthe met with representatives of Palestinian political organisations, where he received a briefing on the ongoing Palestinian struggle for self-determination. He offered South Africa’s continued support for the Palestinian people in their quest for self-determination.