Cape Town - Trade targets set by South Africa and the UK have not been met because of global economic pressure, International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said in Cape Town on Tuesday.
“While we have made a commitment that we will double our trade by 2015, we have not been able to achieve that because our economies are fully integrated in the global economy,” she told reporters after the SA-UK Bilateral Forum.
“... That did put a negative impact on our plans. There was a bit of a damper there,” she said.
Nkoana-Mashabane and her UK counterpart William Hague co-chaired the 10th forum, following a joint strategy adopted in 2011 for bilateral co-operation until 2015.
They launched the SA-UK business council on Tuesday morning as a step towards promoting a focused trade and investment partnership.
Nkoana-Mashabane said the UK remained South Africa's largest foreign direct investment source, and the seventh largest export market for local products.
She said tourism was also a growing source of revenue.
South Africa welcomed 440,000 tourists from the UK in 2012, an increase of 9.9 percent on the previous year.
She welcomed the forum as a platform for discussion, warning that South Africa and the UK should not start taking their relationship for granted because of historical ties.
“When you have such good relations... if you don't have such a mechanism, we can end up discussing those issues of peace and security, which are very critical, but would not necessarily be embedded in keeping our eye on the ball,” she said.
“By that, I mean making sure bilateral relations and all elements are taken good care of.”
She said that while the countries did not always agree on all issues, there were no fundamental differences with the way in which they conducted their business.
Hague said the forum had been productive and was a chance for the countries to review their goals and joint agenda for 2015 and beyond.
He said the strategy adopted in 2011 was designed to put the countries' relationship “on a modern footing fit for the 21st century”.
“We share a long and extensive relationship..., it's a kinship that goes well beyond politics.”
He echoed the sentiment by Nkoana-Mashabane to expand bilateral trade. - Sapa