Deputy FM Sarybay Visit to South Africa Sets Stage for Presidential Visit in December

Pretoria hosted the third round of political consultations between the Foreign Ministries of Kazakhstan and South Africa co-chaired by Kazakhstan Deputy Foreign Minister Kairat Sarybay and Deputy Foreign Minister of South Africa Ibrahim Ibrahim on Oct. 10.

The agenda of the meeting included preparation and organization of the first state visit of President Nursultan Nazarbayev to South Africa, which is scheduled for early December of this year. The parties discussed the format and topics of negotiations during the state visit and the signing of intergovernmental and inter-departmental documents, including draft agreements on trade and economic cooperation and interaction in environmental protection, as well as a number of memoranda in various fields.

Development of bilateral relations, expansion of Kazakhstan’s cooperation with African countries, as well as cooperation with international and regional organizations, including the UN, the African Union, the Pan-African Parliament and other institutions were taken up. The political consultations resulted in the signing of a protocol and an agreement to hold their next round in Astana in 2014.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sarybay, who was on a one-day working visit, also held a meeting with the leadership of state bodies and the business community, where the organization of the Kazakh-South African Business Forum during the Kazakhstan President’s visit to South Africa was discussed.

South Africa and Kazakhstan’s interests overlap in areas including trade, the production and collaborative marketing of strategic minerals, technology exchanges, machine production, as well as South African oil procurement.

The total trade between South Africa and Kazakhstan has been fluctuating, but has remained in South Africa’s favour since 2009. It increased from R44 million ($4.4 million) in 2009 to R137 million in 2010 ($13.8 million), it dropped to R88 million ($8.9 million) in 2011 and increased to R90-million ($9 million) in 2012.

Exports increased from R42 million ($4.2 million) in 2009 to R101 million ($10.2 million) in 2010 compared to imports of R2 million ($ 202 thousand) in 2009 and R36 million ($4 million) in 2010.

In September 2009, South Africa’s second micro-satellite, SumbandilaSat, was launched from Kazakhstan. Before a blast of solar radiation put it out of commission by damaging its on-board computer system in July 2011, SumbandilaSat delivered over 1,000 very usable, cloud-free images, and became well-known in the international amateur radio satellite community for the excellent results of its amateur radio payload. Denel Spaceteq, the newly launched space engineering unit of aerospace and defence manufacturer Denel, has begun working on South Africa’s third low-orbit satellite, a multispectral, high-resolution earth observation satellite called EO-Sat1.

The two countries established diplomatic relations 21 years ago. Currently, Kazakhstan remains the only country in Central Asia with a South African diplomatic mission. In the end of April 2012, President Nazarbayev accepted a letter of credence from South African Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Kazakhstan Shirish Soni. Kazakhstan also plans to openits embassy in Pretoria.

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