1 July 2013
US President Barack Obama’s visit will go down in history as a turning point in relations between the United States and South Africa, President Jacob Zuma said on Saturday evening.
Addressing guests during a dinner held in Obama’s honour in Pretoria, Zuma said: “You are no stranger to Africa, Mr President. You are a son of the African continent. Your African tour is actually a homecoming.”
Obama was in the country on the second leg of a three-nation African tour that started in Senegal last Wednesday and continued in Tanzania on Monday.
Describing the relations between South Africa and the United States as “extraordinarily strong”, Zuma said both countries now had a duty to take them a step further for mutual benefit.
Zuma said he anticipated that an exchange of business delegations would soon follow to consolidate Obama’s visit. He invited both US public entities and private companies to join South African companies as partners in a number of bankable projects.
“We appreciate the trade focus of the visit. We are pleased that our mutual trade is again reaching its pre-recession levels. Our priority is to consolidate and grow this trend.”
Zuma said South Africa sought partnerships that would help deepen industrialisation, create jobs and develop skills by expanding investments in the country, in line with the aims of the National Development Plan.
“We envisage investments in areas where the USA can add considerable value. These include infrastructure development, agro-processing, beneficiation of our minerals, information technology and the green economy.”
Earlier on Saturday, Obama and Zuma held a joint media conference during which they expressed a common goal of expanding trade.
“The stage is now set for a lot of work to be done to further deepen our bilateral relations and also to promote democracy, peace and development on the continent,” Zuma said.