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Joint Communiqué of the 10th Meeting of the United Kingdom – South Africa Bilateral Forum

Joint Communiqué of the 10th Meeting of the United Kingdom – South Africa Bilateral Forum, 9-10 September 2013

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

  1. The 10th meeting of the South Africa-United Kingdom Bilateral Forum was held in Cape Town on 9-10 September 2013. The Forum was co-chaired by Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa, and Mr William Hague, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom.

  2. The Bilateral Forum is a structured mechanism through which the two countries coordinate and monitor the implementation of joint programmes of cooperation and collectively review the state of political and economic relations. Further, the two countries use this platform to promote regional and global cooperation and share perspectives on pertinent issues.

  3. The year 2014 is historic for the people of South Africa. It will mark the 20th anniversary of the end of apartheid rule and the introduction of a new constitutional order, wherein South Africans work towards a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and united society. Our governments believe that the year 2014 presents an opportunity for the people of South Arica, the continent and the rest of the world to join us in celebrating the South African liberation story.

Bilateral Relations

  1. The delegations extensively reviewed the state of bilateral relations between the two countries. South Africa and the United Kingdom share deep historic relations which have positively impacted on cooperation in a broad spectrum of areas. The delegations recognised this growing tide of cooperation especially in trade and investment, tourism, culture, education and people to people contact. In this regard the two countries recommitted to strengthening bilateral cooperation.

South Africa-United Kingdom Strategy

  1. At its previous meeting in June 2011 in London, the Bilateral Forum adopted the South Africa – United Kingdom Strategy that sets out the agreed areas of focus for bilateral cooperation. It comprises three pillars: Sustainable Development, Security, and Governance and Society, each on three levels: National, Regional and International.
  2. The delegations reviewed implementation of the Strategy and expressed satisfaction at progress achieved thus far. They pledged to redouble their efforts to achieve the targets outlined by 2015.
  3. Ministers tasked officials to start joint work on the next phase of the Bilateral Strategy, 2015-2020.


  1. Ministers noted that while the bilateral trade has continued to grow since the decline of 2009 it had not reached the levels of 2008 and that at the current rate of growth the target to double trade by 2015 from the 2009 figures which was set in 2010 and reconfirmed at the Bilateral Forum in June 2011 would not be met. Ministers urged officials of both countries to increase efforts to meet this challenging target. Ministers were pleased to hear that Bilateral Chambers of Commerce and Business had been established in the United Kingdom and South Africa.

  2. Ministers welcomed the inaugural meeting of the South Africa-United Kingdom Business Council and looked forward to regular reports of its meetings and progress. Ministers encouraged the Business Council to focus on initiatives which will increase bilateral trade and investment between the two countries and to focus some of its activity on the issue of addressing youth employment in South Africa.

  3. Ministers noted the announcement by South Africa of an undertaking to update its already robust national legal framework to strengthen investment protection in South Africa, both foreign and domestic, in a transparent and non-discriminatory manner. In this context, they noted the intention of the South African Government after a series of consultations to terminate the Bilateral Investment Treaty between South Africa and the United Kingdom. They underlined the importance of legal certainty, in particular through effective legal protection for domestic and foreign investment, as a key factor in maintaining high levels of investor confidence and the reputation of both countries as high quality locations for inward investment.

  4. Recognising the shared challenge of youth employment, Ministers encouraged officials to work together to develop an action plan of possible areas for cooperation by October 2013. This action plan might include, but would not be limited to, the sharing of best practice on youth development issues, technical exchanges on the design and implementation of youth employment schemes, skills development and training including developing leadership and managerial capacity, enterprise development and institution building.

  5. Ministers encouraged British companies operating in South Africa to consider measures to support the Youth Employment Accord.

  6. South Africa and the United Kingdom were pleased with the strong message delivered at the G20 in support of agreeing to a multilateral trade deal at the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO’s) 9th Ministerial Conference in Bali in December 2013. A successful outcome in Bali on a fair and balanced agreement on trade facilitation, some elements of agriculture and a set of development issues that benefit all members, especially the Least Developed Countries, and contribute to global growth will bring a much needed boost to job creation. It would also be a stepping stone to progress in Doha Development Agenda negotiations, providing new confidence in successful post-Bali Doha round negotiations. Ministers stressed their commitment to achieving a deal and a post Bali work programme on the outstanding elements of the Doha Development Agenda and other issues.

  7. Ministers recognised the priority given to supporting African development integration and trade by South Africa and the United Kingdom, including at the Tripartite and African Union (AU) level. Ministers confirmed their shared commitment to supporting the AU’s target, of doubling intra-Africa trade and reducing crossing times at key border posts by 50% by 2022.

  8. The United Kingdom recognised the leadership of President Zuma on promoting a development integration agenda in Africa, including through the Presidential Infrastructure Championing Initiative, and South Africa recognised the support the United Kingdom has given to the Tripartite’ s regional integration agenda. Ministers highlighted the cooperation already taking place and agreed to continued and improved collaboration and engagement to promote greater synergies.

  9. Agreeing the importance of public sector reform to accountable and effective government, Ministers committed to enhance openness in government through the OGP and to take forward its goals in their respective regions.

  10. Ministers agreed to work together in the G20 to follow-up on the outcomes of the G20 Summit in St Petersburg from 5 to 6 September 2013. Implementing measures to secure strong, sustainable and balanced growth, continuing work following the St Petersburg Development Outlook - particularly support for developing nations in the context of domestic resource mobilization, which is a priority for both countries - and taking international action on tax avoidance and evasion, would be among the important areas of focus. Implementation of all G20 commitments would be particularly key.

  11. Ministers recognised the importance of continued bilateral economic dialogue and agreed to work together to exploit opportunities to develop greater cooperation on G20 and other international economic issues between the two countries. Both countries agreed that the United Kingdom would send a working level delegation of G20 officials to South Africa at a mutually convenient time.

  12. Recognising the benefits of science and innovation on economic growth and in addressing global challenges, Ministers welcomed the revival of bilateral science and technology cooperation, including the appointment of two science and technology officials in Pretoria and Cape Town in 2012. Ministers agreed to make science and technology a key pillar in the bilateral relationship, reinvigorating the South Africa-United Kingdom Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement signed in 1995 and building on the existing excellent science and technology cooperation between research and academic institutions.

  13. Ministers agreed to focus future work on shared priority areas of astronomy and space; health research; biosciences and climate change, while encouraging cooperation in other fields of research. South Africa will host a bilateral workshop to deepen collaboration on these priorities in February 2014. Ministers further announced a joint £200,000 (R3.1m) Scientific Seminar Scheme to be implemented by the South African National Research Foundation and the United Kingdom’s Royal Society, running to April 2015.

  14. Ministers highlighted the support of both Governments for the educational and scientific benefits associated with the world landspeed record attempt in South Africa by the United Kingdom’s Bloodhound Supersonic Car in 2015/16, which aims to encourage the next global generation of scientists, engineers and mathematicians.

  15. The Ministers acknowledged the long history of cooperation on development between South Africa and the United Kingdom both for national objectives and as part of global fora. South Africa has achieved remarkable progress on a range of social and economic indicators since the transition from apartheid to democracy. However, it was also noted that South Africa’s society remains highly unequal, with many people still living in poverty, without employment and opportunity.

  16. Ministers acknowledged the support from the United Kingdom to South Africa within the existing development programme, guided by the National Development Plan (NDP) and its vision to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality. Significant progress has been made on improving the health services, particularly for women and children and on strengthening public sector performance management and accountability. It noted the increased efforts and focus on growth and job creation, on addressing gender based violence and on progress towards a low-carbon economy.

  17. Ministers recognised the range of areas to share knowledge, expertise and innovative solutions to maximise development outcomes in South Africa beyond 2015; in support of south-south cooperation for sustainable development in the region; and through cooperation in global governance institutions to address challenges to growth and poverty reduction. The United Kingdom committed to put in place a programme of technical assistance to be managed with the SA government, that will provide responsive, fast and flexible access to international expertise and to accelerate plans to tackle poverty and inequality in South Africa. There is further commitment to work together to achieve regional and global development goals in support of Africa’s future, including work through the new South African Development Partnership Agency and in areas of mutual interest.

  18. The meeting welcomed the significant progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals, and the recent commitment by G20 Leaders to accelerating that progress. The meeting welcomed the G20 Leaders’ call for an agreement on a post-2015 development agenda with concise, implementable and measurable goals, taking into account different national realities and levels of development and respecting national policies and priorities, focused on the eradication of poverty, promoting development and on balancing the environmental, economic and social dimensions of sustainable development. Ministers also agreed that South Africa and the United Kingdom would work together to promote full implementation of the actions outlined in the St Petersburg Outlook on Development, as adopted by G20 Leaders.

  19. Ministers welcomed the continuing cooperation and sharing of best practice between South Africa and the United Kingdom on migration and border security. Ministers agreed that future cooperation was vital in enhancing the security of both countries.

  20. The consular services of South Africa and the United Kingdom have worked closely on issues of mutual interest. It is to the benefit of both countries and our nationals that close cooperation and collaboration be maintained and strengthened.

  21. Ministers noted with pleasure the MoU on Cooperation in Arts and Culture signed between the respective Governments in April 2013, and to be implemented by the Department of Arts and Culture and the British Council. A major initial manifestation of the collaboration will be a 3-year programme of enhanced and sustainable artistic exchange, highlighted by a South Africa-United Kingdom arts and culture season in 2014.

  22. Ministers noted with satisfaction the impact of the London 2012 Olympics-related International Inspiration project run by the British Council in partnership with the Department of Basic Education and the Department of Sports and Recreation South Africa (SRSA), which had encouraged the development of leadership skills in young people through the medium of sport. The project will culminate in the production of 27,000 School Sports Manuals which will provide detailed guidelines on sport governance.

  23. Ministers were pleased to note the proposal by the British Council and SRSA to implement a follow-up project, to be known as Premier Skills, which will link professional football coaches from the English Premier League with coaching organisations in South Africa and will support coaching skills development. This initiative will be aligned with the SA Coaching Framework developed to guide and regulate all coaching in South Africa.

  24. Ministers confirmed their commitment to an ongoing programme of collaboration in English language, to be articulated in a proposed Declaration of Intent drawn up by the Department of Basic Education (DBE) and British Council. A major manifestation of this collaboration is support to the implementation of DBE’s English as a First Additional Language policy in primary and secondary schools across SA.

  25. Following the launch of the Association of Colleges South Africa (AoCSA) in April 2013, Ministers confirmed their commitment to ongoing cooperation and exchange in the field of skills for employability. A Department of Higher Education-British Council project has established links between Further Education & Training Colleges in the two countries and will support capacity development in the sector to promote vocational employment opportunities for young people. It will specifically include an Exchange-of-Principals programme, which will contribute to strengthening leadership capacity.

  26. Ministers expressed hope that the two countries will continue to build links between Higher Education institutions in their respective countries in support of greater internationalisation of Higher Education. A Researcher Links programme will be introduced by the British Council, connecting researchers in South Africa and the United Kingdom Wider collaboration will include policy research and scholarship programmes (Chevening and Commonwealth Scholarships).

  27. Ministers acknowledged wider aspects of our science and innovation relationship, including the British Council’s FameLab science communication project which launched in South Africa in 2013.

  28. Ministers noted with satisfaction the progress made in reviewing the legal status of the British Council in South Africa.

  29. Ministers recognised with satisfaction the close and effective defence relationship between the United Kingdom and South Africa and the high level of interaction and cooperation. In particular they welcomed the latest extension of the British Peace Support Team (South Africa) tenure which will enable the continued transfer of the required skills and expertise to the South African National Defence Force and the opportunity to recast the United Kingdom Defence footprint in South Africa to maximise the joint effect and strengthen the partnership. South African Ministers expressed their appreciation for the BPST’s continuing work to strengthen South Africa’s capabilities as a Troop Contributing Country to Peace Missions in Africa. Ministers agreed to maintain close bilateral cooperation on matters of regional security and stability and acknowledged the ongoing visit to the United Kingdom by the South African Deputy Minister for Defence and Chief of Defence as clear evidence of the healthy state of relations. Regional

  30. Ministers discussed recent developments in Africa, including the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia and Zimbabwe. The UK welcomed South Africa’s growing peacekeeping role on the continent. Ministers shared concerns about recent developments in Egypt, and the need for an inclusive political process leading to restoration of democratic order.

  31. South Africa and the United Kingdom noted and were pleased with the increased efforts to conclude the Economic Partnership Agreement between seven countries in the Southern Africa Development Community and the European Union. Steady progress has been made in the negotiations and both countries are looking forward to the conclusion of an agreement that is beneficial for all parties. Both countries look forward to resolving the final outstanding issues as soon as possible.

  32. On tax, Ministers noted that the South African Revenue Service and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs have a long-standing, active relationship. Both administrations acknowledge their important roles in the development and building of capabilities in African Tax and Customs administrations through the provision of technical expertise. SARS and HMRC commit to the sharing of best practices, capacity building and effective exchange of information. 

  33. Ministers also discussed South Africa-United Kingdom cooperation in multilateral institutions (UN/AU), and agreed to closer and more regular dialogue at senior official level on a range of global security issues, to complement discussions at ministerial level.

  34. Ministers agreed on the importance of global coordination and cooperation in combating sexual violence in areas of armed conflict. They agreed that rape and other forms of serious sexual violence in armed conflict are war crimes and constitute grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and their first Protocol. They looked forward to the UK-chaired highlevel event on 24 September 2013 at UNGA68 on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict, with the UN Special Representative for Sexual Violence in Conflict. They also welcomed the recent appointments of both Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, as Chairperson of the AU Commission, and Ms Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, as Head of UN Women, both of whom are prominent champions of the rights of women internationally.

  35. On the Middle East, the Ministers discussed the Middle East Peace Process and Iran, and the security and humanitarian situation within Syria.

  36. Ministers noted the significant challenge posed by climate change and commit to working together to tackle this challenge under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. We recognise South Africa’s leadership at COP17 and the positive role the United Kingdom played in supporting this leadership. We recognise the significant pledges South Africa has made to address climate change, in the face of urgent socio-economic and developmental challenges, and the United Kingdom’s support to South Africa’s efforts in reducing the carbon intensity of its economic development.

  37. Both countries are committed to the success of the Ad hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP), under both workstreams; on the new legal instrument to be completed by 2015 and to come into effect and be implemented from 2020; and on increasing the levels of mitigation ambition in the period before 2020. We agree that the outcome of the ADP should uphold the principles of the Convention including the principle of common but differentiated responsibility and respective capabilities and equity, as well as science. Furthermore, we underscore the importance of adaptation, particularly to developing countries and call for a balance between adaptation and mitigation in the negotiations.

  38. Both countries committed to a successful outcome of the 19th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC and the 9th Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP19/CMP9) to be held in Warsaw, Poland in November 2013, and the importance of finalising the business model framework and the arrangements between the COP and the Green Climate Fund in order to allow the capitalisation of the GCF to begin. We also call for contributing Parties to fulfil their financial pledges for the fifth replenishment of the Global Environment Facility.

  39. The Ministers reiterated the commitment of their Governments to the combatting of Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT). The contemporary manifestations of this scourge have negatively impacted biological diversity and pose serious threats to endangered species and the environmental conservation. They noted the inter-relationships of these scourges and transnational organised crime with the consequent negative impact on regional security, promote corruption, undermining structures of governance and the rule of law. These scourges also impede social and economic development, including effective strategies for the eradication of poverty and underdevelopment. The Ministers noted that the United Kingdom Government in conjunction with HRH the Prince of Wales will host a high-level international meeting, the London Conference, in early 2014, aimed at addressing these scourges. They further noted that South Africa will have a high-level participation at this important Conference.


  1. Ministers agreed to hold the next South Africa – United Kingdom Bilateral Forum in the United Kingdom in 2015.


Published 16 September 2013