Ladies and Gentlemen of the media
Thank you for attending this media/press briefing on our just successfully concluded 13th Session of the Intergovernmental Committee on Trade and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) with the Russian Federation.
As you may know, the ITEC remains the main structured bilateral mechanism between South Africa and the Russian Federation, and since 1999 it has proven to be an effective instrument in contributing directly to improved two-way trade and investment, as well as critical skills development and technology exchanges between our two countries. We have been pleased with the work of the ITEC Sub-Committees.
This 13th Session of the ITEC has reviewed progress made since the last session held in South Africa in 2014.Discussions have been very fruitful and all Sub-Committees have committed to strengthening implementation of all the existing commitments between our two countries in the respective sectors, so that our strategic partnership produces tangible benefits for both countries.
In line with its domestic priorities, South Africa continued to advocate more progress on the skills development, agricultural cooperation and science and technology. Other key priorities for South Africa in these discussions included cooperation on nuclear energy, transport including rail transport and systems, as well as agriculture and agro-processing industries. I am certain that our close cooperation with our Russian partners will bear significant fruits in the near future.
Another element that featured in our discussions included the need to match our excellent political partnership with strong economic and commercial relations in terms of substantive trade and investment in high value added and high technology sectors. South Africa is still to catch-up on trade volumes with Russia, despite substantial growth in total trade between the two countries between 2009 and 2013.
South African exports to Russia have increased from R1. 4 billion in 2009 to R3.8 billion in 2013. Total imports from Russia amounted to R3.6 billion in 2013. There are thus great potential trade gains with Russia, particularly in the automotive, agro-processing and mining sectors as well as food and citrus products.
By facilitating increased partnerships between South African and Russian businesses through the South Africa-Russia Business Council and government to government cooperation, these gains can be realised without delay.
The 13th ITEC Session has also acknowledged the contribution of sectors such as arts and culture and tourism to enhancing the strategic partnership between South Africa and Russia, as well as the clear benefits for our respective citizens that cooperation in these sectors provide.
South Africa is grateful for the constructive participation by Minister Donskoy and his delegation in the 13th Session of ITEC and we look forward to renewed vigour in implementing our respective commitments prior to the 14th ITEC Session to be hosted in South Africa in 2016.
I thank you