South African Deputy Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Luwellyn Landers is visiting three Central European countries — Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland this week to strengthen bilateral political and economic relations.

“South Africa views the region as a potential partner in addressing the country’s national priorities and [seeks to deepen] co-operation in the fields of science and technology, education, agriculture and trade,” the Department of International Relations and Co-operation said in a statement here Monday.

This year marks 25 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between South Africa and the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland and the consultations this week will provide an opportunity to assess and review the status of bilateral relations and also agree on new areas of potential cooperation. Landers is visiting the three countries from Monday to Thursday.

Relations between South Africa and Czech Republic are governed by their Joint Committee for Economic Co-operation, which aims to promote and deepen bilateral trade and economic co-operation. Bilateral trade between the two countries currently stands at 9.6 billion Rand (about 685 million US dollars), ranking the Czech Republic as a significant trading partner for South Africa.

Relations between South Africa and Hungary are currently governed through annual political consultations and a Joint Economic Committee (JEC) set up under an agreement signed in 1993.

A Protocol on Consultations, signed in 1995, oversees bilateral political relations with Poland.

Bilateral trade between South Africa and all three central European countries has grown considerably since formal diplomatic relations were established. South Africa’s combined total exports to the three countries last year amounted to 4.2 billion Rand, while South African imports from the three countries amounted to 19.2 billion Rand.