Members of the military are seen ahead of French President Emmanuel Macron's arrival for a state visit at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. Picture: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters
Members of the military are seen ahead of French President Emmanuel Macron's arrival for a state visit at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. Picture: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

State visit by France’s Macron to focus on Covid-19, economy

By Shannon Ebrahim Time of article published May 28, 2021

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French President Emmanuel Macron is on his first state visit to South Africa at the invitation of President Cyril Ramaphosa, which takes places on the heels of the meeting of African leaders in Paris on Financing African economies.

The visit is of particular importance given that France is South Africa’s second largest trading partner in the European Union, and South Africa is France’s largest trading partner in Africa.

During the 2019 South Africa Investment Conference, French companies pledged R20 billion of investment into the country.

The leaders are meeting at the Union buildings in Tshwane, after which they will pay a visit to the Vaccine Production Support Initiative for Africa at the University of Pretoria. Discussions during the visit will focus on issues pertaining to the global response to Covid-19 and the economic, health, research and manufacturing responses to the current pandemic and beyond.

The leaders are expected to discuss post-Covid-19 recovery, the ACT Accelerator, a temporary World Trade Organisation intellectual property waiver and the future manufacturing of Covid-19 vaccines and other vaccines in South Africa and the rest of the continent. France expressed support at the Paris meeting of the proposal to enable vaccine manufacturing in Africa in order to roll out Covid-19 vaccinations on the continent more speedily. France had also agreed that its private sector would work together with South African manufacturers in joint ventures on vaccine production.

In addition to enhancing bilateral cooperation between the two countries, the engagement also aims to deepen understanding regarding multilateral and global issues of mutual concern, such as the need for reform of the United Nations Security Council, and the urgency of addressing climate change. The leaders will also discuss the establishment of a predictable framework of cooperation between Africa and the United Nations and its agencies on ensuring peace and security on the African continent.

The South African ministerial delegation includes the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor, Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize, Minister of Higher Education Science and Technology Dr Blade Nzimande, Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition Ebrahim Patel, and Acting Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni.

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