Visit to South Africa, Madagascar and Mauritius by the Australian Foreign Minister
South African International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane with the Honourable Minister Julie Bishop, MP Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia. Photo: Unati Ngamntwini
Minister for Foreign Affairs, Australia – The Hon Julie Bishop MP
11 September 2014
Today I embark on a five day visit to South Africa, Madagascar and Mauritius, my first to these countries as Australia’s Foreign Minister.
Australia’s engagement with the Indian Ocean region including economic, trade and maritime issues will be the focus of my discussions with my counterparts. A priority of the visit will be the promotion of Australia’s significant mining interests as well as regional security including combatting piracy.
I will be accompanied by Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls Natasha Stott Despoja, reflecting the Coalition Government’s commitment to the economic empowerment of women and girls through our overseas development assistance.
South Africa is an economic powerhouse and the only African nation in the G20. It plays an important role in African and global issues and is our largest export market in the region with two-way investment at $6 billion. My meeting with the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, the Hon Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, will provide an opportunity to discuss further strengthening this important bilateral relationship. I will also meet with business leaders to discuss their engagement with the G20 Summit in Brisbane in November.
In Madagascar I look forward to meeting the new President, Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and Minister for Strategic Resources. I believe I will be the first western Foreign Minister to visit since the government was formed in April following the elections in 2013 that restored democracy after a 2009 coup. Australia was a significant contributor to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) led “Roadmap” for the restoration of democracy.
Australian companies have substantial mining interests in Madagascar, and I will announce the opening of our first Masters Awards scholarships for Madagascar with an emphasis on the extractives sector.
In Mauritius I will meet with the President and Prime Minister, as well as my counterparts from Mauritius and Seychelles to discuss Indian Ocean regional issues. Australia also works closely with Mauritius and Seychelles in the area of maritime security and has contributed over $4 million to regional anti-piracy initiatives. I will host the next Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) meeting of Foreign Ministers in Perth on 9 October in Australia’s second year as chair of the association.
Australian High Commission
Bilateral discussions between South Africa and Australia held at O.R Tambo building (DIRCO) in Pretoria. Photo: Unati Ngamntwini
Statement by the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, on the occasion of the Joint Press Conference with the Honourable Minister Julie Bishop, MP Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia, Pretoria, 11 September 2014
I warmly welcome Her Excellency, Minister Julie Bishop, Foreign Minister of Australia and her delegation to South Africa.
South Africa attaches great importance to its relationship with Australia, which has over the past two decades become South Africa’s biggest trading partner and most popular tourist destination in Oceania. During our meeting today, Minister Bishop and I focused on the three main areas that form the pillars of our relationship: bilateral, regional and global issues.
Regarding our bilateral relations, we both expressed our satisfaction at the current status of bilateral projects. South Africa is Australia’s largest economic partner in Africa. Despite this, we felt that more could and should be done to increase trade between our two countries, given the many opportunities that exist.
The economies our two countries are characterised by mining and agriculture, amongst other fields. And we discussed how we can share knowledge and experience in these fields for the mutual benefit our peoples. We also discussed cooperation in skills development and skills exchange.
We talked about the exciting Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project which was jointly awarded to our countries and the tremendous impact it has, not only in the field of science, but also in terms of the upliftment of local communities in the areas around the project.
With regard to regional issues, we focused on SADC and the outcomes of the SADC Summit. We discussed some of the major “hotspots” in Africa and what we thought would be the best way forward in providing guidance on how to solve some of these conflicts. In addition, Minister Bishop gave me an excellent briefing on developments in the Oceania and Pacific region, focusing on the forthcoming post-coup elections in Fiji.
Australia is chairing the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) now and we have discussed the many opportunities, as well as our shared visions for the future regarding this organisation.
As you know, Australia is also currently holding the Presidency of the G20 and President Zuma will, in November this year, attend the G20 Summit in Brisbane. We, therefore, discussed our priorities and what each of us wants to achieve in this regard.
We discussed the crisis in the Middle East, as well as the situation in Ukraine. We both want a peaceful outcome in these two important areas of the world.