President Cyril Ramaphosa has today, 16 November 2018, concluded a three-nation visit to Europe which sought to strengthen political, economic and multilateral relations with the European Union as South Africa’s single largest trade partner.
The visit commenced in France on Wednesday 14 November 2018 where President Ramaphosa addressed the European Parliament in Strasbourg before leading the South African Delegation to the 7th European Union-South Africa Summit in Brussels in the Kingdom of Belgium on 15 November 2018.
On 15 and 16 November 2018 President Ramaphosa co-chaired the Global Commission on the Future of Work at the Headquarters of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Geneva, Switzerland.
President Ramaphosa was especially honoured by the invitation of the European Parliament for the President to address its invitation to address Members in the year of the centenary of Founding President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. President Ramaphosa addressed the European Parliament on the theme “A Partnership of Equals Based on Shared Values”.
In his address, President Ramaphosa said President Nelson Mandela remained a universal hero whose visionary leadership is revered across the world.
The President acknowledged tributes received during this special year from leaders and peoples across Europe and the world who condemned the injustices of apartheid and salutes the activism of struggle heroines and heroes who fought to build a democratic South Africa.
President Ramaphosa called for continued solidarity and collaboration in the fight against poverty, inequality and narrow nationalism and urged the strengthening of multilateralism to promote peace and security, human rights, democracy, the rule of law, free and fair trade, sustainable development and inclusive growth, to build a better Africa and world across all regions.
In Belgium President Ramaphosa participated in the 7th European Union-South Africa Summit through which South Africa and the European Union renewed longstanding bonds of friendship and solidarity and agreed to strengthen relations underpinned by increased trade and investment.
The EU is South Africa’s largest trading partner with the value of trade increasing nearly fourfold from R150 billion in 2000 to R599.86 billion in 2017.
More than 2 000 EU companies operate in South Africa, creating more than 500 000 direct and indirect jobs.
The President reaffirmed South Africa’s bold ambition to attract US$100 billion dollars in investment over the next five years. He further commended the partnerships pledged by European Union investors at the recent South Africa Investment Conference.
The EU-South Africa Summit committed among others to support the socio-economic transformation agenda of South Africa and the implementation of the African Union’s Agenda 2063.
The President concluded his working visit to Europe in Geneva, Switzerland, where he co-chaired the fourth meeting of the Global Commission on the Future of Work at the Headquarters of the International Labour Organization from 15 -16 November 2018.
President Ramaphosa elucidated how South Africa, following the conclusion of the recent Jobs Summit, was developing shared solutions from labour, business and government to meet the challenges that the 21st century poses to the future of work.
The Global Commission will release a highly anticipated report on the future of work in January 2019.
The Commission’s mandate is to make recommendations to sustain and protect the livelihood of workers around the world amidst the proliferation of the fourth industrial revolution, climate change and the changing world economic cycle and also identify challenges.
Commenting on the outcomes of the EU visit, the President said: “Our visit has been very successful; we were warmly received and our interactions were very positive. South Africa is the only African country, and one of 10 countries globally, that has a strategic partnership with the European Union. Our coming here has renewed our bonds and relationships with the one bloc of countries that invests the most in our economy.”
From Europe, the President has travelled to Addis Ababa in the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia to attend the 11th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU), scheduled for Saturday and Sunday 17 and 18 November 2018.