Your Excellency, Chancellor Angela Merkel,
Senior government officials,
Members of the media,
It has been my great pleasure to receive Chancellor Merkel and her delegation for talks this morning, where we held fruitful deliberations. Germany is one of South Africa’s most strategic partners and to receive the Chancellor and her delegation has been a great honour. Germany is South Africa’s second largest trading partner, a major investor, a significant tourism market and a most valued developmental partner.
South Africa and Germany are both non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, and we had a chance today to discuss several issues on the Security Council agenda.
We also addressed a number of bilateral issues.
Of particular importance was the signing of the joint initiative on the promotion of vocational training.
I have made addressing the high rate of youth unemployment in our country a foremost priority of this administration. We have begun to implement the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention to address this challenge, which includes five priority actions to over the next five years that will significantly reduce the rate of youth unemployment.
An important part of this intervention is to provide young people with the skills that companies require, and to better align the skills development system with demand in the economy. We have to make sure that young people transition from learning to earning at a much faster rate. Part of our discussion with the Chancellor today focused on how we can work together to strengthen technical and vocational education in South Africa.
We know that Germany has one of the most admired and successful training systems in the world, and we look forward to finding ways for us to learn from each other’s experiences and build a world-class skills development system for young people in South Africa.
Our relationship has a strong economic focus.
Bilateral trade is growing, our trade balance is narrowing, and we benefit from the presence of some 600 German companies in South Africa.
We agreed that there is a need for German businesses to deepen their presence in South Africa and expand their operations, and that we should cooperate to see greater levels of German investment in South Africa. Chancellor Merkel is accompanied by a number of senior business executives and we will have an opportunity to engage them during the Business Forum this afternoon.
I believe that that this discussion will result in concrete proposals on ways in which trade and investment flows between our two countries could be strengthened.
We also both look forward to the 10th Meeting of the Binational Commission, which will meet in Pretoria in March under the leadership of the two Foreign Ministers.
The Binational Commission will address technical aspects related to relations between South Africa and Germany and ensure that we move the relationship forward in a positive and a structured manner.
This visit comes at a time when we are on a concerted drive to grow our economy and to create more jobs. Foreign direct investment by German companies will make a valuable contribution to our effort to secure R1.2 trillion in investment over five years.
During my visit to Berlin in 2018, I expressed my hope that the commitment made by German companies at the first South Africa Investment Conference would be scaled up at subsequent conferences. I am pleased to say that German investors have not disappointed, expanding their presence in our economy and deepening their contribution to jobs and growth.
Germany has been our longstanding partner in development.
We therefore also discussed the possibility of deepening collaboration on a number of social issues such as education, health and climate change.
Ultimately, the ties that bind our two countries are the strong relations that have developed between our two peoples, and a shared commitment to a just, prosperous, peaceful and sustainable future for all.
This has been a most successful and most welcome visit.
We remain greatly encouraged that the lasting bonds between our two countries are stronger than ever, and will grow even stronger in time to come.
I thank you.