By SA News
South Africa and the Netherlands elevated their longstanding relations on Tuesday, placing a focus on trade and investment.
President Jacob Zuma received Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who is on a two-day official visit to South Africa, at the Union Buildings.
At a media briefing, the President said the visit by the Prime Minister would take relations and cooperation – which dates back to 1994 – to a higher level.
The two countries have since 1994 forged a solid partnership that transcends many fields including economic, education, agriculture, trade, science and technology, education, judicial, multilateral and culture to mention but a few.
“We are in agreement on the need at this time to elevate our relations. We are pleased that our ministers responsible for foreign affairs will sign the agreement establishing a Joint Commission at The Hague on Thursday, which will help to coordinate and guide the broad and substantive scope of our relationship,” said President Zuma.
He said total trade between the two countries had increased consistently from R27 billion in 2010 to R48 billion in 2014.
The Dutch have also invested in about 40 projects in South Africa with direct investment volume estimated at over R14 billion over the period 2003 to 2015 in financial services, aerospace, transport, business services, biotechnology and information technology and software sectors.
President Zuma said he was looking forward to enhanced relations between the two countries, building on the rich history and common beliefs in democracy, freedom, human rights, equality and other values that make the world a better place.
Prime Minister Rutte is accompanied by a sizeable business delegation while on his visit, which President Zuma said augurs well for the countries’ economic relations.
He said trade and investment were the backbone of relations that exist between the two countries.
The Prime Minister said President Zuma was putting a lot of effort into managing the economy, working on inclusive growth, creating jobs and realising South Africa’s full potential.
He said the Netherlands will help South Africa in achieving these goals.
“We have committed [to] long term investing and sharing knowledge and expertise to create solid and sustainable solutions. The longstanding relationship between our countries is strong and matured,” said the Prime Minister.
Ministers from both countries signed agreements on Tuesday, which the two countries’ leaders said will deepen cooperation on a broad range of issues. These include agreements in agriculture, migration, science and technology, among others.
Ahead of the official media briefing, the two leaders held a meeting in which they discussed more possible investment opportunities, such as in South Africa’s ocean economy, energy and other key priorities.
“The message we want to communicate to our Dutch partners is simple and clear: South Africa is open for business and investment,” said President Zuma.
The Prime Minister said he has brought along with him a team from Netherlands that will help South Africa in expertise regarding dealing with water shortages.
“Their works started on Monday and will continue tomorrow,” he said.
South Africa is currently experiencing a drought.