The Diplomatic Society

  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Singapore-Sub-Saharan High Level Ministerial Exchange

10 September 2018

SA Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms Reginah Mhaule, represented South Africa in the Singapore-Sub-Saharan High Level Ministerial Exchange, that took place on 27 and 28 August 2018 in Singapore.

Whilst in Singapore, Deputy Minister Mhaule also participated in the Africa-Singapore Business Forum (ASBF), a biannual gathering that was launched in 2010. ASBF is the premier platform for business exchange and fostering trade and investment between Africa and Asia.

As an integral part of its policy of promoting the overseas growth for Singapore-based companies and international trade, the Singaporean government is also focusing on Africa as a source of new markets through initiatives such as the ASBF and the Sub-Saharan High-Level Ministerial Exchange.

South Africa and Singapore established diplomatic relations in 1992. South Africa’s bilateral relations with Singapore are warm, marked by, among other things, an exchange of high-level visits. Then Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa visited Singapore in 2016, followed by a reciprocal working visit by Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies in 2017.

The current bilateral mechanism that allows the two countries to optimise existing cooperation is the South Africa-Singapore Foreign Office Consultations (FOC) which takes place annually. Singapore hosted the 4th FOC in 2017 and in 2018 South Africa will host the 5th FOC.


Your Excellency, Minister Balakrishnan,

Members of your delegation,

On behalf of Minister Sisulu, I wish to thank you for the invitation to attend the High Level Ministerial Exchange Visit in your country. Unfortunately, Minister Sisulu was unable to attend due to other competing priorities, and I am honoured to represent South Africa, as we view our bilateral relations as mutually beneficial and strategic to the peoples of our nations.  

As South Africa, we have dedicated 2018 to celebrate the Centenary of two of our struggle veterans, namely former President Nelson Mandela and Mama Albertina Sisulu. Their internationalist approach emphasised the importance of advancing strategic relations with the countries of the global South. In recognition of their tireless efforts of supporting South Africa’s journey to freedom and liberation, we dedicated this whole year to honour their contribution and teach our nation of their universal values of selflessness, dedication and equality for all.   

South Africa will be hosting the 5th Foreign Office Consultations (FOC) during the course of 2018. The intention will be to chart a way forward in our important bilateral relationship for the next year. We view the FOC as an important structure to strengthen and reconfirm the already strong and friendly bilateral relations that exist between the people of South Africa and Singapore and the mutual beneficial cooperation that the two countries enjoy with each other and to also encourage further expansion in our cooperation.   

It is also important that during the next meeting of the FOC we consider the status of outstanding legal instruments (MoUs and Agreements), with the objective of finalising them in order to lay the foundation for a legal framework within which to expand cooperation. These are: the draft Memorandum of Understanding between Trade and Investment South Africa (TISA) and Singapore Cooperation Enterprise (SCE); draft Action Plan for the implementation of Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the Republic South Africa and the Republic of Singapore concerning Bilateral Tourism Cooperation; and the draft Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the Republic South Africa and the Republic of Singapore concerning Higher Education and Training Cooperation.

Therefore, dates will be proposed in due course through our agreed diplomatic channels.  

Your Excellency,

I would like to thank the Singaporean government for receiving President Ramaphosa in October 2016 in his capacity as Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa. This visit by President Ramaphosa significantly contributed to broadening and deepening our bilateral relations.

We were happy to receive the Deputy Prime Minister Shanmugaratnam on a Working Visit in May 2017 during the World Economic Forum (WEF) as well as the Senior Minister of State and Defence Dr Maliki Bin Osman in October 2017 for the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA).

Minister we were also informed of the visit of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to South Africa on an Official Visit from 25-27 November 2018. We have approached the President’s office with a request for Prime Minister Lee to call on President on 26 November 2018.

I would like to further congratulate Singapore on the excellent work since assuming the Chair of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2017. We have appreciated how you have navigated many of the challenges facing ASEAN and we look forward to your participation in the 18th Meeting of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Council of Ministers Meetings scheduled for 2 November 2018 in Durban, which we shall host in our capacity Chair.   

Your Excellency,

The exchanges of business delegations should be encouraged to identify opportunities for trade and investment.  The annual Outward Selling and Investment Mission (OSIM) of the Department of Trade and Industry to Singapore at the end of June 2018 was a success and is fast gaining momentum and proving to be fruitful in bringing South African business to meet and engage with their Singaporean counterpart in various areas of cooperation. It becomes imperative that the draft Memorandum of Understanding between Trade and Investment South Africa (TISA) and Singapore Cooperation Enterprise (SCE) be concluded as a matter of urgency in order to address the low trade levels.

South Africa will be hosting an Investment Summit in October 2018, to which we are inviting investors from within South Africa, across the African continent and  countries across the world.  We also look forward to receiving a delegation from Singapore and the South African High Commission will be providing further information on the Investment Summit to your trade and investment departments in due course.

InvestSA, the official investment agency will also be doing an investment promotion presentation tomorrow during the Business Forum. We hope to use that opportunity to provide clarity to potential investors and reaffirm South Africa’s position as a safe investment destination.

Your Excellency,

South Africa prioritises transformation of the global system governance to make  it  more responsive to the needs of the developing countries and ensure fair representation in global governance structures.  

South Africa regards Singapore as an important partner to jointly advance the developmental agenda of the global South, and our countries should continue to collaborate closely within the multilateral domain for the emergence of a more equitable international community.

In this regard I wish to extend our sincere appreciation for the support given to South Africa’s candidature for a non-permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

In closing,

We would also like to thank Singapore for the courses offered to South African civil servants. Singapore is world renowned as a center of excellence and the country has been particularly helpful in assisting South Africa with skills development under the Singapore Cooperation Programme of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Approximately 1,000 civil servants have attended training courses in Singapore, thereby improving the skills level in South Arica, in pursuit of our Batho Pele principles (putting the people first).  

I’ve also taken careful study of the High Level Ministerial Exchange Visit (HLMEV) programme, and on behalf of the South African Delegation, I would like to express  our  excitement about the nature and content of the interactions, and we look forward to the fruitful interactions and sharing of best practices.

I am grateful that we had this opportunity to meet and I also wish to thank you for the excellent and informative programme as well as the welcoming manner in which my delegation has been received.


Thank you.





February/March 2020








© copyright 2011-2017| The Diplomatic Society| All Rights Reserved.