Strong Partnership between France and SA Reaffirmed
4 November 2020
French Minister for Foreign Trade and Economic Attractiveness, Mr Franck Riester, reaffirmed France’s commitment to stand by South Africa in these challenging times and to support mutual economic partnerships with South Africa during his official three-day visit.
Minister Riester was the first foreign minister to visit South Africa (2 to 4 November 2020) since the reopening of the borders.
As a key partner within the G20 and the United Nations, but also as chair of the African Union until January 2021, South Africa has been a key partner for France in the fight against the pandemic. This visit sends a strong message of support and solidarity to Africa, following the initiatives taken by President Emmanuel Macron and President Cyril Ramaphosa since the start of the crisis.
These initiatives have made it possible, in particular, to set up a collective, coordinated international response under the guidance of the WHO, as well as a new mechanism for research and the pre-purchase of vaccines for vulnerable countries, namely the COVAX initiative supported by France and South Africa. The SANOFI laboratory, with a strong presence in South Africa, has just announced that it will supply 200 million doses through this mechanism, once a vaccine has been found.
The Minister also met with the French community in South Africa, with around 9,000 people residing in the country. After a period of lockdown lasting more than 8 months, Mr Riester relayed a message of solidarity, union and hope, underlining their key role in the relationship between France and South Africa.
"I note your energy and your creativity, as among you today I see both representatives of CAC 40 companies, but also some of you who have been here for a long time and have established your own ventures in tourism, business, journalism, hospitality and catering,” said Riester.
Minister Riester, accompanied by a delegation of 13 French companies, said he wished to strengthen trade and business relations with South Africa. With a GDP of 370 billion dollars and as the most diversified economy on the continent and the main African financial center, South Africa provides a strong platform for French companies in Africa. This visit comes at a time when the South African authorities have recently announced a massive economic recovery plan, to finance projects in the fields of infrastructure and sustainable development. French companies stand ready to participate in this recovery effort.
Two weeks before an international summit on investments in South Africa, Minister Riester confirmed French commitments to the tune of 1 billion euros over the next 5 years in the energy, construction, agriculture and service sectors. New French investments, to the value of 700 million euros, will be announced at the summit. The goal is for trade between France and South Africa to exceed 3 billion euros by 2021.
Minister Riester discussed these topics with his counterpart in charge of Trade, Industry and Competition, Mr Ebrahim Patel, and with Deputy Minister for International Relations and Cooperation, Mr Alvin Botes. He met French companies committed to the training of apprentices and engaged with entrepreneurs in the innovation sector in Johannesburg and Cape Town, where the first French Tech ecosystem in sub-Saharan Africa was created. He also visited several business sites.
In line with President Macron’s and the government's new policy towards Africa, this trip also made it possible to support civil society projects and to mobilise our partners in favour of youth and women, in conjunction with the French Development Agency, the French Institute and Business France.
The visit paves the way for the presidential visit of Emmanuel Macron to South Africa, which could take place in the first semester of 2021. Minister Franck Riester will continue his engagements on the African continent in the coming weeks.
Embassy of France in South Africa