President Cyril Ramaphosa has pulled out all the stops while hosting the Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, on Thursday 6 February.
According to a government statement, the drop-by follows the successful state visit by the German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, in Cape Town in November 2018.
Merkel joins Ramaphosa at a time where South Africa’s economy is taking a dip due to lagging state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and corruption.
Ramaphosa and Merkel to build on their strategic relationship
Ramaphosa spared no expense to make Merkel feel welcome. A red carpet was literally rolled out and a 19-round gun salute was fired in her honour. Ramaphosa was also seen, smiling ear-to-ear, putting in great effort to get to know Merkel’s entourage.
South Africa and Germany’s strategic relationship is substantiated by 72 bilateral agreements, providing a legal framework for cooperation in several areas.
These relations are further enhanced through a Binational Commission, spanning Foreign and Security Policy, Migration and Humanitarian Assistance, Economy and Energy Development Cooperation, Environment, Science and Technology, Arts and Culture, Labour and Social Affairs and Vocational Education and Training.
According to Ramaphosa, this partnership will be strengthened through engagement. Among other issues, cooperation will be garnered between South Africa and Germany in the United Nations Security Council, where South Africa currently serves as a non-permanent member.
“The two countries are committed to advocating for world peace and security, strengthening and reform of multilateral institutions and responding to climate change,” read the statement.
“The leaders will also exchange proposals on the expansion of mutually beneficial trade and investment,” it added.
Over 500 German companies represented in South Africa
South Africa is Germany’s largest trading partner in Africa, while Germany is the third-largest source of overseas visitors to South Africa.
About 600 German companies are also represented in South Africa. Total trade reached R235 billion over 12 months to the end of November 2019, while South African exports (R108 billion) exceeded R100 billion for the first time, narrowing the trade deficit.
Ramaphosa and Merkel will also co-chair the South Africa-Germany Business Roundtable accompanied by their respective ministers and business delegations.
Ramaphosa hits it off with Steinmeier
On 20 November 2018, Ramaphosa met with President of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
Before Steinmeier, the last official visit to South Africa by a German President has undertaken 20 years ago by then federal President, Roman Herzog.
The state visit was to afford both leaders an opportunity to discuss multilateral issues and to cooperate closely as non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council for a two-year term from 2019 to 2020.
It was expected that the visit would lead to the signing of further trade and investment agreements between South Africa and Germany.
The visit included re-establishing the importance of Germany to South Africa’s national and international interests and could be seen in Germany’s support of South Africa’s domestic objectives; such as fostering economic growth, overcoming poverty and social imbalances, increasing the skills base and supporting efforts to combat the effects of climate change.