Speech by Minister of Communications, Ms. Ayanda Dlodlo, on the occasion of the German National Day – 28 September 2017
Mr. Bernhard Kampmann, Chargé d’Affaires ad interim
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Ladies and Gentlemen
On behalf of the Government and people of South Africa, I wish to extend to the Government and people of the Federal Republic of Germany our sincere congratulations on the occasion of the 27th Year of German Unity which represents a critical milestone in the journey to solidify your scared goal of the unity of the German people.
We are also moved by the dynamism of your democratic dispensation which has seen the successful election of the Bundestag a few days ago. Once again congratulations to the Christian Democratic Union, for consolidating its position as majority party in Germany and to the rest of the parties who continue to make a meaningful contribution to your government. We wish you well in the next few days as you prepare to elect the German Chancellor, who will continue to steer the German ship to greater heights in the European Union and the rest of the world.
It is particularly pleasing to note the continued progress in our bilateral relations as we further enhance the historically close relationship that exists between our two nations.
At the economic level South Africa and Germany continue to enjoy a robust and growing trade relationship. In 2016 Germany moved up to 2nd place as the largest global export market for South African goods and remained our 2nd largest import market, cementing Germany’s position as South Africa’s 2nd largest global trading partner overall. Clearly we are doing things right, as total merchandised trade between our countries increased by 20.3% last year, and with South Africa having managed to narrow its trade deficit with Germany by almost 8%.
Likewise, although our countries already have a very substantive investment relationship, with over 600 German companies sustaining approximately 100 000 direct jobs, we warmly welcome the continued vote of confidence by leading German companies to expand their investments in South Africa. We look forward to even further improvement in this regard, and remain available to assist potential German investors in developing further investment opportunities in our country through our various investment promotion initiatives.
Ladies and Gentlemen, beyond the economic level, South Africa and Germany have over the years cultivated an extensive relationship across many areas of interaction and cooperation. Over the past year our strategic partnership was once again reaffirmed through the very successful 9thBinational Commission meeting held in Berlin on 16 November 2016 under the co-chairpersonship of Minister Nkoana-Mashabane and former German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier – who, we note, was promptly then also announced and presented as the federal presidential candidate for Germany on the very same afternoon.
Some of the key interactions during the 9th BNC included exchanges of views on global developments, an increased focus on youth employment, as well as engagements on our ever-increasing trade relations and cooperation in the fields of science and technology, the environment, energy, development cooperation, culture, as well as labour and social affairs. We hope to give further impetus to this relationship during the BNC mid-term review later this year, and we look forward to hosting the 10th BNC in Pretoria in November 2018.
I would also like to use this opportunity to congratulate Germany on the very successful G20 Summit that was hosted in July this year under the theme “Building Resilience, Improving Sustainability and Assuming Responsibility”, and for the warm reception given to the South African delegation. Given the aforementioned theme, South Africa was particularly pleased with the leadership which Germany provided in placing development in Africa on the front-burner of the G20 Summit through the adoption of the G20 Africa Partnership under the final G20 Leaders’ Declaration. We particularly welcome the Partnership’s alignment with the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and its support for the 2030 SDG Agenda.
Ladies and gentlemen,
In keeping with the theme of good friends of South Africa being elevated to higher service in Germany directly from their South African engagements, earlier this year we also had to bid farewell to former Ambassador Walter Linder to assume the position of State Secretary of the Federal Foreign Office. We warmly congratulate him on this promotion and greatly value his dynamic and excellent work in further building our bilateral relations during his term. We look forward to welcoming a new German Ambassador to South Africa soon and to the continuing of our extensive work programme.
Finally, ladies and gentlemen, it is well known that at the people-to-people level South Africa and Germany have historically enjoyed very strong links, not only through the extensive number of tourists visiting each other’s country, but also from the sizeable German community living and working in South Africa.Many of you may have also noticed that barely two weekends ago the 41stedition of the October Fest was once again held at the German School here in Pretoria. This embracing of German culture at one of the biggest and oldest beer fests outside of Germany has become a standout feature in Pretoria’s annual social calendar and provides further testament to our strong cultural and people-to-people relations. I am also told that this weekend marks the halfway point of the globally celebrated 217 year-old October Fest in Munich.
Therefore, ladies and gentlemen, as I invite you to join me in raising your glasses in toast to the Chancellor, the Government and the people of the Federal Republic of Germany, as well as our valued partnership and friendship with Germany, and whilst one would normally raise a toast by saying “ZumWohl” in German, I think that given this festive time of the year in Germany and Pretoria I would like to raise today’s toast by simply saying “PROST”.