The state secretary of the FDFA, Livia Leu, met with South Africa’s deputy minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Alvin Botes, in Pretoria today for political consultations. The focus was on foreign policy issues as well as bilateral matters in the areas of business, human rights and education, research and innovation. South Africa is a priority country of the Federal Council’s Foreign Policy Strategy 2020–23 and Switzerland’s most important economic partner in Africa.
In order to further strengthen the close and multifaceted cooperation that exists between Switzerland and South Africa, regular high-level meetings based on a memorandum of understanding (MoU) have been taking place since 2008. The working groups set out in the MoU – on foreign policy, human rights, economic and trade relations, economic development, and education, research and innovation – report on their annual meetings at each of the political consultations.
At the 10th round of consultations, Switzerland and South Africa exchanged views on economic and political cooperation, regional issues, human rights and the UN Security Council. Ms Leu informed her interlocutor about Switzerland’s work and thematic priorities at the UN Security Council. Other topics touched on included the effects of the war against Ukraine and the work of the African Union.
The two delegations paid tribute to their close cooperation on human rights, including torture prevention, and expressed satisfaction with their joint leadership of the Women, Peace and Security Network over the past year, including a two-day conference in Geneva in July 2022 and the follow-up meeting in Pretoria in December.
Ms Leu and Mr Botes underlined the very good bilateral relations in the areas of research, education and innovation and expressed satisfaction with the progress of the cooperation programme of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) 2021–24, which promotes a functioning, resource-efficient private sector and a favourable business environment.
On the economy, the two delegations discussed their two countries’ excellent bilateral economic relations and, in this regard. South Africa is Switzerland’s most important economic partner in Africa. Over 100 Swiss companies are active there. The process of updating the free trade agreement between EFTA, of which Switzerland is a member, and the Southern African Customs Union was also discussed.
Through these regular high-level consultations, Switzerland and South Africa are able to deepen their bilateral relations in the areas of foreign policy, human rights, economic affairs, education, research and innovation. As a member of the G20 and one of the BRICS nations, South Africa is an important foreign policy partner for Switzerland.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Federal Department of Foreign Affairs Switzerland.