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Politik, Pressespiegel

24. November 2014

Germany and South Africa conclude 8th Binational Commission

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier with South African President Jacob Zuma (© Ute Grabowsky / photothek.net)

The German and South African Foreign Ministers signed the Joint Declaration of the 8th German South African Binational Commission on November 21. The Declaration marks the successful conclusion of the wide-ranging bilateral negotiations and maps the development of this relationship over the next two years.

Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier travelled to South Africa for this year's Binational Commission (BNC) meetings November 20-21. The commission was jointly chaired by the South African Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and Minister Steinmeier.

The trip also allowed Minister Steinmeier important face-to-face meetings with the political leadership in South Africa, including President Jacob Zuma and Parliamentary Opposition leader Mmusi Maimane.

The 2014 Binational Commission

The BNC consisted of committees that addressed eight themes covering a broad spectrum of bilateral cooperation issues: foreign policy, security and defence; economics; development cooperation; environment and energy; science and technology; culture; labour and social affairs; and vocational education and training.

The Joint Declaration signed by the Ministers at the close of the BNC, addressed each of these themes and sets the direction for bilateral relations for the coming two years, as well as guiding the development of specific projects and programmes.

In particular, the commission’s discussions regarding foreign and security policy covered topics of significant political relevance, including the Ebola epidemic, South Sudan and troubling developments in the Great Lakes Region. Both sides reaffirmed the two nations’ excellent bilateral relations, as well as committed to enhancing cooperation on multilateral issues.
 
The negotiations also confirmed the three focal areas of German development cooperation, Energy and Climate, HIV/AIDS Prevention and Governance and Public Administration, with the first to focus on South Africa’s transition to a Green economy. There was also agreement to establish a new focal area, Technical and Vocational Education and Training, and begin consultations on this area in early 2015.

A total of 72.5 million Euro, nearly 1 billion Rand, were committed by Germany to the Government of South Africa for development cooperation; 38.5 million Euro for Financial Cooperation programmes and 34 million Euro for technical Cooperation programmes.

Further cooperation will take place between South Africa and Germany on the topic of introducing a national minimum wage, including an exchange of information and technical discussions. There were also concrete activities delineated on the topic of increased participation of vulnerable groups in the labour market.

About the Binational Commission:

The German-South African Binational 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 Binational Commission has contributed immensely to further strengthening German-South African relations. In 2012, the Commission met for the seventh time, this time in Berlin.

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