2 July 2013

South Africa: SA-USA Relations Strengthened Following Official Visit By US President Obama

Photo: Lawrence Jackson/White House
The presidents and first ladies of the U.S. and South Africa.

press release

President Barack Obama of the United States of America (USA) paid an Official Visit to the Republic of South Africa, at the invitation of President Jacob Zuma, from 28 June to 1 July 2013.

Accompanying President Obama was the United States Trade Representative (USTR) designate, Mr Froman and a delegation from the Overseas Private Investment Cooperation (OPIC), the Export-Import Bank (EXIM) and the United States Trade & Development Agency (USTDA).

Presidents Obama and Zuma held bilateral talks in Pretoria on 29 June 2013. They discussed the status of bilateral relations; health; education; energy; safety and security cooperation; development assistance; as well as peace, security and development cooperation in Africa.

President Zuma was supported by the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane; Minister of State Security, Dr Siyabonga Cwele; Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi; and Minister of Economic Development, Mr Ebrahim Patel.

The two leaders agreed on the importance of strengthening bilateral relations, including trade and investment relations and looked forward to the next meeting of the Strategic Dialogue to be hosted in Washington DC.

Both leaders agreed on the importance of Foreign Direct Investment in contributing towards economic growth, human capital development and job creation. They also encouraged their officials to continue to work together on the various training and capacity building opportunities.

President Obama acknowledged the importance of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) for Africa's economies and pledged his administration's support for the renewal of AGOA beyond 2015.

President Zuma discussed US investments in South Africa. There are currently 600 companies in South Africa which employs in excess of 150 000 South Africans and the various training and capacity building opportunities offered by the USA to South Africa under the auspices of the Annual Bilateral Framework, including to the South African security services. President Zuma further emphasised the importance of strengthening Africa's capacity to export value-added products to the US market.

The two Presidents agreed to continue to seek ways to align US development assistance to South Africa's national development priorities and both leaders lauded the successful health cooperation under the US PEPFAR framework as an example to the rest of Africa. In the same vein, the two leaders expressed hope that the launch of the USAID School Capacity and Innovation Programme in 2012 in support of the development of education will go a long way in improving the quality of education in South Africa, an apex priority of the current administration.

The two leaders acknowledged the on-going cooperation in the area of Defence under the auspices of the South Africa-US Defence Committee (DEFCOM).

Both leaders agreed on the importance of promoting democracy, peace and stability on the African continent as a prerequisite for sustainable development, under the auspices of the African Union and the United Nations. President Obama pledged continued US assistance towards helping Africa reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and to continue supporting the post-2015 MDG agenda.

President Zuma thanked President Obama for launching the US Strategy Towards sub-Saharan Africa, as well as for supporting the NEPAD goals to strengthen inter-Africa trade. He further called on US companies to take advantage of the many investment opportunities on the continent, especially in the critical sectors of infrastructure development, green technology and food and water security.

President Zuma assured President Obama that South Africa, as the SADC mediator, was committed to ensuring a credible outcome to the forthcoming elections in Zimbabwe. He further called on the US to continue relaxing sanctions against Zimbabwe as a confidence-building measure and to help normalise the economic situation in Zimbabwe.

President Zuma pressed on President Obama to use his influence to expedite the reform of the United Nations Security Council in order to make it more representative, legitimate and relevant to the realities and demands of the 21st century.

Both leaders re-affirmed their belief in a rules-based, multilateral system which gives primacy to diplomacy and multilateral negotiations in the resolution of international disputes. Both leaders also pledged to cooperate with like-minded nations towards ensuring the integrity of the non-proliferation regime, to counter cyber-crimes and to fight terrorism in all its manifestations.

President Obama thanked President Zuma and the South African people for the hospitality showed to him, his family and delegation during their visit to South Africa.

Issued by: Department of International Relations and Cooperation

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