Pretoria: South Africa attaches considerable importance to its relationship with Vietnam as a staunch friend and ally, says International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.
“Over the past 20 years, the relationship between South Africa and Vietnam has grown and solidified into a multi-faceted relationship with growing cooperation in many fields, rapid growth in people-to-people links and strong state-to-state and government-to-government relations, which includes cooperation at many levels – bilateral, as well as multilateral,” said Nkoana-Mashabane on Tuesday.
She was speaking after a consultation meeting with her Vietnamese counterpart, Pham Binh Minh.
This year, the two countries celebrate 20 years of formal diplomatic relations.
Nkoana-Mashabane said South Africa and Vietnam have come a long way in advancing their relations and improving the lives of their people.
“South Africa is today a free and democratic country and Vietnam has become one of the fastest growing economies in the world, having halved poverty over the past 20 years. Our governments face similar challenges to address inequality and alleviate poverty, and we have much to learn from each other’s experiences,” said the minister.
At today’s meeting, the two sides reviewed the status of bilateral relations, specifically in the areas of bilateral trade and investment, and cooperation in the field of wildlife protection.
On the bilateral trade, they welcomed the continuing increase in the volume of bilateral trade – which reached R6 billion in 2012, up from R3.7 billion in 2011 – and agreed that substantial potential in the field of trade and investment remains unexploited.
“We noted South Africa’s considerable trade deficit and agreed that we should focus on increasing our economic interaction in a more balanced way,” said Nkoana-Mashabane while inviting Vietnam businesses to invest in South Africa’s infrastructure drive.
With regard to cooperation in the field of wildlife protection, the two countries shared concerns about the illegal trade in protected wildlife species and products, especially rhino poaching and agreed to work together to put an end to this issue.
Recently, the two signed an action plan that promotes cooperation between the two countries in law enforcement and compliance with legislation such as the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
The implementation plan will see the development of joint legislative efforts to conserve biodiversity, build capacity and promote the participation of international organisations and NGOs in the process.
It also includes strengthening cooperation through exchange of information, best practice and research, technology use, transfer and development, natural resource management, wildlife trade and protected areas management.