Pretoria – South Africa and France have signed a number of agreements in areas such as agriculture, arts and culture, maritime and higher education.
The agreements were signed on Monday during President Jacob Zuma’s state visit.
In agriculture, the two countries signed a protocol regarding the establishment of the French South African Agricultural Institute (FSAGRI). The institute, which will be implemented at Fort Hare University, aims to increase high level skills in agriculture and agro-processing.
The two sides also agreed to explore channels of regional cooperation in the Indian Ocean by signing a bilateral agreement on maritime cooperation in areas adjacent to the French Southern and Antarctic territories – Marion Island and Prince Edward Island.
According to the joint statement issued by the two allies on Monday, a new programme of cultural cooperation was signed as well as a declaration of intent to strengthen cooperation in the field of higher education, training and skills development and accelerating student mobility between the two countries.
On the first day of the visit, President Zuma and his counterpart President François Hollande reaffirmed the importance they attach to the relationship between their two countries, structured by a strategic partnership encompassing political, economic, social and defence matters.
“France and South Africa have common interests and share values, including the promotion of peace and security, human rights, democracy, the rule of law and sustainable development. Bilateral relations are rich and cover a wide variety of fields, especially in education and training, environment, health, transport, energy, research and science, arts and culture,” read the joint statement.
Despite the global downturn, the two also noted that trade and investment between the two countries continues to grow.
“Both parties reaffirm their commitment to build on these dynamics. In this respect, the Heads of State also welcome the South Africa-France Business Forum convened, which recognises the pivotal role of organised business in the promotion of bilateral relations and welcome the signing of a cooperation protocol between Business France and Invest SA.”
Pretoria and Paris also welcomed the implementation of the 2015 Alstom Gibela-Prasa contract for the supply of rolling stock, which will create more than 30 000 industrial jobs and stimulate localisation in the field of rail transport.
With regards to regional and global issues, the two sides agreed to enhance communication and coordination to address pressing regional challenges, such as terrorism, international crime and migration.
The two Presidents have common views on the need to reform the UN and its organs, including the UN Security Council, in order to better respond to the current challenges facing the international community.
They have also committed to promote the principles of inclusive and balanced development in the global economic and financial system.
Both countries are deeply concerned with the issue of tax and custom revenue evasion, which has a major negative impact on development, especially in African countries.