4 March 2005
Deputy President Jacob Zuma and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed two agreements, one on trade and economic cooperation, the other on customs administration, in Pretoria on Thursday.
SA and Turkey agreed to take steps to promote trade and economic cooperation – including establishing a joint economic commission – and to grant each other “most-favoured nation” status in accordance with World Trade Organisation principles.
On the customs front, the two countries agreed to supply each other with information and technical assistance to ensure the proper application of customs legislation and to help prevent and investigate customs offences.
Erdogan arrived in South Africa for a four-day visit on Wednesday, accompanied by several government ministers and about 60 businesspeople.
Zuma said the signing of the agreements was an important step in consolidating relations between Ankara and Pretoria.
“From these interactions we are able to say there is a fresh breeze”, Zuma said, adding that there was generally a consensus on various issues that were discussed at a series meetings between the two countries’ delegations.
Erdogan said that Africa was an integral part of his administration’s foreign policy, adding that Turkey had declared 2005 “the year for Africa”.
Following Zuma’s visit to Turkey in 2003, trade between the two countries expanded to over R6-billion in 2004, with SA gold exports to Turkey exceeding R600-million.
South African exports to Turkey (including gold) increased by 205% in 2004, reaching R5.6-billion compared to R1.8-billion in 2003.
Turkish exports to South Africa grew to R1.1-billion in 2004, up by 57% from R677-million in 2003.
Issues discussed between Erdogan’s delegation and their SA counterparts included expanding trade and investment, defence and security co-operation, restoring air links and expanding tourism.
Issues of mutual concern to the two countries include the elections in Iraq, developments in the Middle East and the reform of the United Nations.
Addressing journalists in Pretoria ahead of Erdogan’s visit, Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad said that Turkey ranked in the top 20 economies in the world and was thus an important partner for South Africa.
“We want to use Turkey as a springboard to enter the former Asian republics and the former Soviet Union, so Turkey becomes a very important player in helping us to make inroads into all those territories”, Pahad said.