18 July 2011
British Prime Minister David Cameron, kicking off his first working visit to sub-Saharan Africa in Pretoria on Monday, committed to doubling bilateral trade with South Africa by 2015.
Speaking after a meeting with President Jacob Zuma at the Union Buildings, Cameron also pledged an additional €52-million aid package for refugees in Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia.
With trade between South Africa and the UK valued at around R60-billion, Cameron noted that engagements between Britain and South Africa were more critical than ever.
He described the relationship between the two countries as “cordial and strong”, saying there was room to make it even stronger through increased trade and investment.
‘We are seeing a booming Africa’
“There is a huge opportunity for trade between Africa, South Africa and the United Kingdom … we are seeing a booming Africa, and I want Britain to play a crucial role in that development,” Cameron said. “Our engagements are more important than ever before.”
Zuma said that while trade between Britain and South Africa continued to grow, there was room for improvement.
“I want to say our relations are strong,” Zuma said. “We are happy to take our relations forward, and we will improve as we go forward.”
Zuma said that, apart from trade matters, his discussion with Cameron also dwelt on the leadership crisis in Libya and the political situation in Zimbabwe.
Different stances on Libya
Although the two countries agree that a solution is needed to resolve the Libyan crisis, they have different approaches, with Cameron standing firm on British support for the Nato air strikes while Pretoria emphasises a negotiated settlement.
“I think all of us feel we need to resolve the Libyan question. The people of Libya have to decide how they go about ensuring democracy in their country,” Zuma said, adding that the African Union was willing to engage further with the European Union on an appropriate solution to the crisis.
“The Prime Minister and I agree that a solution is needed, but we differ on how to go about that,” Zuma said. “What is important to us from the African Union perspective is that any product in Libya should be preceded by negotiations and an end to the violence and the killing of civilians – that is our position.”
Cameron is set to visit Nigeria next.