Egypt, S.Africa committed to advancing bilateral, continental cooperation as they resume joint committee

Amr Kandil , Wednesday 25 May 2022

Egypt’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry and South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor signed a joint communique after the ninth round of the joint committee between the two countries was held in the Egyptian capital, the Egyptian foreign ministry said in a statement.

Sameh Shoukry   Naledi Pandor
Egypt s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry and South Africa s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor during the signing of a joint communique on Wednesday 25 May, 2022. Photo courtesy of Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Facebook page.

The ministers have agreed to hold the joint committee between Egypt and South Africa once every two years alternately in the two countries, as well as mid-term reviews at the level of senior officials. 

The eighth joint committee between Egypt and South Africa was held in March 2010 in Pretoria, while the first round of the committee was held in April 1996 in Cairo. 

During Wednesday’s meeting of the committee, the delegations of the two countries, headed by Shoukry and Pandor, launched a comprehensive dialogue to exchange visions on a wide range of topics of bilateral relations. 

The delegations also discussed regional and international issues of mutual concern, the statement said. 

Business council, economic ties 

During the meeting, Shoukry and Pandor said their governments are determined to establish an Egyptian-South African business council and remove nontariff barriers undermining trade between the two countries. 

The council will aim at encouraging the business communities in the two countries to make use of the multiple opportunities for trade and investment in each country, the ministers noted. 

They also urged activating cooperation between the authorities concerned with investments and commerce chambers in Egypt and South Africa to encourage and facilitate the participation of the private sector in the two countries’ economies. 

The ministers discussed practical approaches to boosting the volume of intra-regional trade and the flow of investments between the two countries, the statement said, adding that the current volume of trade and investment between the two countries do not reflect the level of huge capabilities they possess in this regard. 

The ministers agreed on taking further steps to achieve economic integration in the continent, including through boosting cooperation among existing sub-regional economic groupings. 

This is in addition to activating the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) agreement between the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and therefore activating African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). 

Bilateral relations 

The ministers also agreed on expanding cooperation in various other fields, including defence, security, law enforcement, energy, mining, petrochemicals, infrastructure, pharmaceuticals, communications and information technology, science and research, and agriculture.

Expanding cooperation in these fields should be achieved by exchanging expertise and bilateral visits between Egypt and South Africa and building capacities, the ministers noted. 

Pandor invited Shoukry to visit South Africa for the tenth round of the joint committee between the two countries in Pretoria in 2024, the statement said, adding that the Egyptian minister accepted the invitation. 

During the committee meeting, the two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Egyptian Space Agency (EGSA) and the South African National Space Agency (SANSA) on cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space. 

The two ministers referenced Cairo-Cape Town Road project, launched under the leadership of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and backed by Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, as a link between the two countries, as well as countries in the north, east and south of the African continent. 

In the face of the global coronavirus pandemic implications, the ministers agreed on establishing cooperation between Egypt and South Africa regarding COVID-19 vaccine production for local and continental uses. 

This comes as the World Health Organisation (WHO) selected Egypt and South Africa among six countries to receive the tools needed to locally produce messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines in Africa. 

Shoukry and Pandor urged international organisations and financial institutions to strengthen efforts to support the health sector in African countries as well as international mechanisms concerned with the equitable distribution of coronavirus vaccines.

The ministers called on countries worldwide to purchase vaccines manufactured in Africa to ensure the preservation of manufacturing capabilities in the continent. 

Africa’s voice at COP27 

Pandor congratulated Shoukry on Egypt being chosen to host the 2022 UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) from 7-18 November in Sharm El-Sheikh city. 

The two ministers affirmed the need to work together to ensure that the voice of Africa is heard in a suitable manner during COP27. 

They agreed on cooperating to make sure that urgent and tangible measures are taken to face climate change globally in a way that achieves the interests of the peoples of the continent and the world. 

Regional, int’l issues 

Discussing the challenges facing Africa currently and the political situation across the continent, the ministers stressed commitment to continued joint work to enhance continental security and peace. 

This includes implementing the African Union’s ‘Silencing the GunsInitiative, achieving objectives of the AU Agenda 2063, countering terrorism, extremism, irregular migration, human trafficking, money laundering and drug trafficking. 

The ministers discussed current crises taking place around the world and their implications on international security and peace, stressing the importance of dialogue and political negotiations and solutions to these crises. 

Shoukry and Pandor affirmed their countries’ support for endeavours that seek a quick political settlement for the international crises. 

In this regard, the ministers underscored the need for providing support to the multilateral system. 

They noted that the global governance institutions, including the United Nations and the UN Security Council, should be more inclusive, representative, and democratic to allow and facilitate greater participation by developing countries in global decision-making. 

They also stressed the importance of the role of the Non-Aligned Movement in ensuring that the views of its member states are taken into consideration. 

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