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South Africa - Argentina Bi-National Commission


November in Buenos Aires witnessed further high level engagement between Argentina and South Africa, two of the economic and strategic giants of the South-and both members of the G20, G77+China and other major multilateral bodies. The occasion was the South African Embassy convened Bi -national Seminar in support of the Bi National Commission, which was held at the historic Palacio San Martin, the splendid belle époque venue of the Argentine Ministry of Foreign relations, International Trade and Worship, which acted as co-host.

South African Ambassador Tony Leon explained to the capacity audience at the opening session that the theme chosen “Argentina and South Africa-Gateway Countries to Continental Opportunities” was carefully chosen as an envelope in which to wrap the high-level engagement between the countries because of both similar geographic locations and, more significantly, “because it is impossible to do business in Africa without taking into account the continent’s largest economy—South Africa. Likewise in South America, to ignore Argentina-the continent’s largest Spanish-speaking market would not make strategic sense.”

The keynote opening speeches were at an appropriate high level. South Africa’s Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies and Argentina’s Minister of Foreign Relations and International Trade Hector Timerman kicked off proceedings with a ringing affirmation of both the renewed significance of the South in view of the world economic crisis, and the importance of the bilateral relationship. Minister Davies, pointed out that there was a “crucial difference between being a gateway and being a gate-keeper”. He indicated that South Africa viewed itself as an entry point into Africa, but not the only one.

A significant and novel feature of the two-day seminar was the presence of directors  of major South African multinational corporations, who flew in from all corners of the world, to tell their corporate stories of how they have taken their South African –grown companies and taken their business models across the continent and the wider world. The first day of the seminar dealt with the economic sector issues, while the second day covered three distinct, but related sectors of the bilateral relationship, i.e. Political, Culture and Education, and Human Rights. Speakers from both countries (from government and non-state actors) shared the stage in discussing the two countries’ vibrant and yet growing bilateral relationship, while also outlining other initiatives that should be undertaken in order to maximise further this special relationship.

The second day also served to launch a pioneering book by one of the eminent Argentine African scholars, Professor Gladys Lechini from the National University of Rosario, entitled: "Argentina and South Africa: Facing the Challenges of the 21st Century-Brazil as Mirror Image". This a first piece of work ever produced about the evolution of the two countries' bilateral relationship and it will certainly serve as a reference point for many interlocutors interested in the advancement of the two countries' bilateral relationship. The outcomes of this two-day seminar will be presented to the two countries' Foreign Ministers Meeting of the Bi-National Commission (as Co-Chairs of this annual BNC) scheduled to take place in South Africa in 2012.

The Embassy wishes to thank Standard Bank Argentina, the Argentine Foreign Ministry, the DTI, and the Argentine Embassy in Pretoria for the support provided towards the success of this important event.

South African Embassy - Argentina


March 2018






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