Pretoria, 1 April 2023 (TDI): The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa, Naledi Pandor hosted Russian Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Alexander Kozlov for bilateral trade and economic cooperation.

Both Ministers co-chaired the 17th session of the South Africa-Russia Joint Inter-Governmental Committee on Trade and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) on Thursday.

The ITEC meeting takes place within the context of a bilateral agreement that was signed in 1999 and revived in 2002 to give impetus to the political commitment between the two countries to broaden and deepen their relations.

These engagements are further guided by the Treaty of Friendship and Partnership signed in September 2006, as well as by the Declaration of Strategic Partnership signed in March 2013 in Durban, South Africa.

During the meeting, both ministers reaffirmed further expanding the bilateral trade and economic cooperation.

Russian Minister of Environment said that the potential for cooperation between the countries is much greater and there are underlying conditions for boosting trade volumes.

Notably, bilateral trade between Russia and South Africa was up 16.4% in 2022 compared to the previous year and reached US$ 1.3 billion.

Minister Kozlov also highlighted the impacts of sanctions that harm opportunities for trade between Russia and other countries.

Further, he added, “Under these conditions, it is necessary to come up with new forms of cooperation in the financial sector. I expect that very soon, we will be able to carry out practical work in this direction and build an effective system of settlements.”

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After meeting with Russian Minister, Minister Naledi Pandor told the media that the historical link between South Africa and Russian Federation remains strong.

“You would see Minister that there is a great deal of media interest in our meeting because there are some who don’t wish us to have relations with an old historical friend.

“We have made it clear that Russia is a friend, and we have had cooperative partnerships for many many years, including partnerships as we combated the apartheid regime which decimated our people and our country.”

“And while we are friends with many all over the world, we cannot become sudden enemies at the demand of others,” says Minister Pandor.

Further, she also expressed hope that Russia and Ukraine can find a diplomatic solution to the conflict.

It is also to be noted that South Africa will host the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, and China at the 15th BRICS Summit from 22 to 24 August in Durban.

Minister Naledi Pandor affirmed that she looked forward to supporting deliberations between South Africa and Russia at the BRICS conference.