Deputy Trade and Industry Minister Fikile Majola and Slovak counterpart, Vojtech Ferencz, on Thursday signed a joint protocol agreement in Pretoria. File Photo: IOL

PRETORIA – Deputy Trade and Industry Minister Fikile Majola and his Slovak counterpart, Vojtech Ferencz, on Thursday signed a joint protocol agreement in Pretoria, during the fifth session of the joint council on economic cooperation (JCEC) between the countries.

“The JCEC is a committee between the Republic of South Africa and the Slovak Republic which was formed after the signing of a memorandum of understanding on economic cooperation between the two countries. It [the memorandum of understanding] spells out defined areas of collaboration that the two countries have to prioritise in order to promote trade and investment, as well as sectoral collaboration,” Majola told African News Agency (ANA).

“The JCEC happens once every second year, with South Africa and the Slovak Republic hosting alternatively. The agenda of the JCEC looks at how we are going to increase trade firstly, then secondly investment, as well as sectoral collaboration to promote trade and investment.”

Majola said South Africa was aiming to increase its foreign exports and attract investment.

“Trade between the two countries is actually very low, our exports to Slovakia are very low. We are actually running a trade deficit. However, when you look at the composition of the exports - it is mostly exports of value added products which mostly support our industrial policy framework. Now the trick is to look for new markets for South Africa’s exports,” he said. 

The current “global gloom” compelled nations to improve relations and cooperatively work together to correct “this undesirable situation” in the interest of all people across the world, said Majola. 

“The US-China trade war, rising energy prices, and the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, among others, all cause a drag on growth and have the potential for economic disruptions that pose threats to global trade, and consequently to emerging markets like ours."

He emphasised that next month's second South African Investment Conference to be presided over by president Cyril Ramaphosa was part of government's efforts to mobilise massive investments.

“South Africa offers many possibilities for increased trade and investment. Our country is open for business. We continue to welcome global enterprises to invest in our country,” said Majola.

“We are confident that following this joint session, our two countries will begin to see enhanced bilateral economic relations materialise through greater trade and investment flows for our mutual benefit.”

African News Agency (ANA)