Binational Commission enhances German-South African cooperation
The seventh Germany-South Africa Binational Commission has successfully concluded with the adoption of a joint communiqué in Berlin on May 8, 2012. The Commission was co-chaired by the Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa, Kgalema Motlanthe, and the German Minister of Foreign Affairs, Guido Westerwelle.
South African Deputy President Motlanthe and German Foreign Minister Westerwelle
“South Africa is Germany’s most important partner in Sub-Saharan Africa,” Westerwelle noted. Germany saw South Africa’s new political and economic clout as a tremendous opportunity, he added, to further expand and deepen the good cooperation the two countries enjoyed.
South Africa and Germany were partners with a shared vision, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe pointed out. Both countries sought to advance peace and security in the world as well as good governance, the rule of law, democracy and human rights, and were working to promote economic development and combat climate change.
These intergovernmental consultations take place alternately in South Africa and Germany, the last being held in Pretoria in April, 2010. The Commission’s activities now cover seven areas of cooperation, each with their own committee: the economy, the environment, development cooperation, defence, education/science/research, culture, labour and social affairs.
Common global challenges
Flags of Germany, the European Union and South Africa
Foreign Minister Westerwelle announced plans for further expanding cooperation between South Africa and Germany on climate protection, renewable energies as well as education and training, all sectors of vital importance for the future. Furthermore, in 2012 a new committee on foreign and security policy convened for the first time. “This new committee testifies to our common desire to help tackle global challenges,” Westerwelle explained.
On the issue of UN Security Council reform, for example, South Africa and Germany were “already pulling together”, he noted. Since January 2011 both countries have been non-permanent members of the Security Council. “We see South Africa as a strong and reliable partner in shaping globalization,” Westerwelle pointed out. South Africa is the only African member of the G20 and plays a major role in South-South cooperation.
A new area of cooperation was agreed upon during the meetings, in the area of vocational training. Due to the strong need in South Africa for such training and with Germany's successful dual education system, the countries created a Joint Committee on Vocational Education and Training to further develop cooperation in this field.
As part of the commission, German Development Minister Dirk Niebel met with South Africa Finance Minister Pravin Jamnadas Gordham. Both sides confirmed the continuation of the three focal areas of cooperation “Energy and Climate”, “Governance and Administration” (including Violence Prevention) and “HIV Prevention”. From the commission’s negotiations, the German Government undertakes to provide South Africa with new funding in the amount of up to 286.9 million Euro for bilateral Technical and Financial Cooperation for 2012 and 2013.
Partnership founded on shared values
Relations between Germany and South Africa are founded above all on shared values. It is only on this “firm foundation”, according to Westerwelle, that intensive and wide-ranging ties between the two countries can flourish. They may be separated by thousands of kilometres, he continued, yet they are linked by shared experience: “The yearning for freedom, the rule of law and human dignity is stronger than barbed wire.”
For Germany, South Africa is the most important political and economic partner in Sub-Saharan Africa and takes seventh place as a trading partner outside the EU. For South Africa, Germany is a prime trading partner, second only to China. Bilateral relations are by and large problem-free and very intensive in all areas. Official visits are frequent and there is extensive development cooperation; German investment in South Africa is considerable and trade between the two countries substantial. The German community in South Africa numbers around 100,000.
The first Germany South Africa Binational Commission took place in 1996 during Nelson Mandela's state visit to Germany. They have occurred every two years since then.
Joint Communique of the 7th Germany-South Africa Binational Commission [pdf, 58.29k]