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30. November 2016

Report on the Ninth South Africa-Germany Bi-National Commission, 14-16.11.2016, Berlin

The South Africa-Germany Bi-national Commission is held every two years, alternating between Berlin and Pretoria. The two partner countries debate global challenges and coordinate possible collaboration in politics, the economy, environment, development cooperation, defence, education, science, technology, culture and labour and social affairs.

The Commission was established as a result of President Nelson Mandela's state visit to Germany in 1996. Ever since, the Bi-national Commission has contributed immensely to further strengthening South African-German relations. In 2014, the Commission met for the eighth time, in Pretoria.

The Ninth Session of the South Africa-Germany Binational Commission (BNC), co-chaired by  the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, and the Foreign Minister of the Federal Republic of Germany, Dr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier took place in Berlin on 16th November 2016.

The BNC is the principal instrument to steer the intra-governmental relations between South Africa and Germany. It meets every alternate year with the participation of several Ministries from both governments in order to establish an agenda and programme for joint action.  

This BNC discussed cooperation in the fields of renewable energies, environment and climate, education and vocational training, but also in development cooperation, science and technology, employment and social affairs as well as culture. Both countries agreed to consider issuing a commemorative stamp in celebration of the 100th anniversary of former President Nelson Mandela’s birth in collaboration with the relevant institutions.

The third meeting of the Joint Committee on VET (Vocational Educational Training) was held on 14 November 2016 in Germany on the margins of the 9th South Africa-Germany BNC. During the meeting of the Joint Committee on VET, the Joint Declaration was prolonged by three years via an addendum which was signed by representatives from both ministries. The Joint Declaration, initially established in 2013, outlined a commitment by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) to cooperate in the area of vocational education and training (VET).

South Africa remained Germany’s most important trading partner on the African continent in 2015 with total trade 15.5 bn Euro. The two sides agreed to make joint efforts to boost South Africa’s exports to Germany, particularly the high value added, as laid out by IPAP sectors, considering Nine Point Plan imperatives.

In the context of the adoption of the Agenda 2030 and the Paris Agreement on climate change in September and December 2015, participants of the BNC agreed that it has to measure its success with the degree to which its work contributes to the realisation of the SDGs and the Paris objectives.

The participants discussed enhanced cooperation in international contexts such as the EU-African relations and the upcoming Summit in November 2017, the UN Security Council reform and the G20 under the upcoming German Presidency. They shared their concerns and discussed ideas regarding on-going crises in Europe, the Middle East and in Africa. They agreed that South Africa and Germany should enhance their efforts in crisis prevention and management, including in enhancing the capabilities of the African Union and the other regional organisations in Africa.

Picture: Yolande Snyman



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