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South Africa and France to consolidate trade relations

11 July 2016

President Jacob Zuma will this morning begin his state visit aimed at boosting trade and investment relations between South Africa and France.

President Zuma arrived in Paris on Sunday evening for the state visit which is being held under the theme: “Working together as equal partners to explore opportunities and address the challenges of the 21st Century”.

The Presidency said the visit will provide a platform for both countries to improve cooperation in various areas including trade and investment, energy, maritime, agriculture, science and technology, education and skills development, arts and culture, defence, development cooperation and international relations.

“Boosting economic relations and trade are high up on the agenda of the visit. France is an important trade, investment and tourism partner for South Africa.”

Stats indicate that in 2015, trade was standing at R33.6 billion between the two countries.

France remains an important source of foreign direct investment for South Africa with an estimated investment volume of over R24 billion.

France is also a major contributor to the South African inward tourism - with a total of 128 438 tourists from France that visited South Africa in 2015, according to the Department of Tourism.

President Zuma will meet with President François Hollande before the South Africa-France Business Forum.

President Zuma and his delegation will use the forum to encourage French business to invest further in South Africa, with an emphasis on the expansion of investment and trade particularly in the sectors of agro-processing, financial services and defence industry.  

The state visit will further see a number of agreements in areas such as agriculture, arts and higher education signed.

The state visit also coincides with the commemoration of the 100 years of South Africa's participation in World War I in which thousands of its troops from the infantry brigade died during the Delville Wood battle.

As such, the President will preside over the commemoration of the Centenary of the Battle on Tuesday and receive the digitised Rivonia Trial dictabelts from the French government.

President Zuma is accompanied by International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane; Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies; Defence and Military Vetarans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula; Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande; Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa; Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana, Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi and Defence and Military Veterans Deputy Minister Kebby Maphatsoe.


President Jacob Zuma will spend his second day of his state visit in France by presiding over the Centenary Commemoration of the Battle of Delville Wood.


France will commemorate the 100 years of South Africa's participation in World War One in which thousands of its troops from the infantry brigade died during the battle.


The battle at Delville Wood occurred when the South African Brigade was deployed on the Somme, an area along the French-Belgium border, in 1916.


They were ultimately commanded to dislodge the German forces from their strategic strong point at Longueval, which borders Delville Wood.


More than a million men were killed in action, mainly from the South African infantry brigade.


The Battle of Delville Wood went down in the history of WWI as an example of supreme sacrifice and heroism and remained the most costly action the South African Brigade fought on the Western Front.


President Zuma said the centenary commemoration is of special significance to all South Africans.


“We will use the occasion to redress one of the injustices of the past. In preparation for the centenary celebrations, the South African Delville Wood memorial has been transformed in order to ensure that the historical role played by black South Africans in the First and Second World Wars, is also accorded the necessary recognition as that given to white South Africans,” President Zuma said on Monday evening during a state banquet held on his behalf.


President Zuma spent his first day of his state visit meeting with his counterpart President François Hollande.


The day saw the signing of the several agreements and declarations in the areas of education, arts and culture, agriculture, development cooperation as well as business and investment.


The two sides also signed the renewed Partnership Framework Document on development cooperation for the period 2016-2019 which makes provision for collaboration in the promotion national priorities.


President Zuma also met the business leaders of both countries and impressed upon them the need to further advance trade relations.


“France continues to be one of our biggest trading partners and investors. We welcome the presence of French companies in South Africa that provide employment opportunities and skills development to our people. We look forward to further advancing cooperation in this regard,” the President said.


President Zuma also received the digitised Rivonia Trial dictabelts.

SEE ALSO: Digitisation of the Rivonia Trial

SEE ALSO: Rivonia Trial dictabelts digitized


The deteriorating audio recordings of the 1963-1964 court case were restored by France’s National Audiovisual Institute (INA).


President Zuma thanked France for safeguarding “an invaluable part of South Africa's history for generations to come”.


Delville Wood Memorial


The Department of Public Works built the Delville Wood Memorial in remembrance of the fallen soldiers, who served and died during the two World Wars. Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi has been invited by President Zuma to attend the centenary commemoration of the Battle of Delville Wood, as well as the unveiling of the Memorial Wall.


The wall includes the names of black and coloured South African soldiers, who served and died during the wars but whose participation was never recognised until now. The South African National Memorial Wall is situated in the north of France, some 170 kilometres from Paris.


The Department of Public Works, as the custodian of State immovable assets, was responsible for the renovation and extension of the wall. The department is also responsible for the refurbishment and transformation of the Delville Wood Memorial. The renovation of the wall came after a resolution by the South African Mission in Paris in 2014 to reflect the unbiased and authentic role played by black South Africans in the war.


Previously, the role of black South Africans who took part in the wars was diminished from the memorial because their remains were buried elsewhere in France. During the apartheid era, the black soldiers were regarded as unfit for combat like their white counterparts. The original war memorial was erected in 1920 when the South African government purchased 63 hectares of land in Delville Wood.


To commemorate and honour the sacrifices of black South African soldiers, the South African National War Memorial and Museum in Delville Wood was erected and inaugurated in 1926.


In 1952, an altar stone was added to commemorate South African soldiers, who died during World War II in various theatres of war.


The latest renovation project to transform the memorial was a joint intergovernmental initiative by the Departments of Public Works, Arts and Culture and International Relations and Cooperation. The renovations cost R49 million.





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