Statement by Deputy President Paul Mashatile during a media briefing on the occasion of an Official Visit by Colombian Vice President, Mrs Francia Elena Márquez, Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guesthouse, Pretoria, 12 May 2023
Your Excellency Mrs Francia Elena Márquez, Vice President of the Republic of Colombia,
Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Members of the media,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of Government and the people of South Africa, it is my distinct honour to welcome Her Excellency Vice President Mrs Francia Elena Márquez, and the delegation of the Government of the Republic of Colombia to our beautiful country.
Your Excellency we are pleased that prior to this engagement, you have taken time to visit the Freedom Park which is a site of knowledge and heritage aimed at deepening the understanding of our rich history and journey to liberation.
We may be on different sides of the world, yet there is much we can learn from one another and much we can teach each other.
This is especially true when it comes to how we deal with deep structural challenges such as land ownership, as we both share colonial legacies and incredible diversity – in people, culture and ecology.
Therefore, this visit marks an important milestone in strengthening our political and economic relations, as it is also the first meeting between South Africa and Colombia since President Gustav Francisco Petro took office in August 2022.
We are optimistic that the election of President Petro and Vice-President Márquez, will create a new opening to revitalise ties with South Africa and with Africa as a whole.
We are confident that the new Colombian government will continue to expand the bilateral relations that were established in the 1990s, when our countries began to develop strong political and economic connections.
On the economic front, South Africa and Colombia have engaged in trade and investments in various industries, including mining, agriculture and manufacturing.
Both countries have also signed several bilateral agreements that focus on enhancing economic cooperation.
Bilateral cooperation with Colombia is, furthermore, in line with South Africa’s foreign policy objective of the South-South Cooperation to develop mutually beneficial political and economic relations as well as technical cooperation to advance the development agenda of the South.
The concluded various legal instruments include the following:
- Memorandum of Understanding on Political Consultations,
- Memorandum of Understanding on Natural Parks,
- Memorandum of Understanding on Science and Technology, and
- Memorandum of Understanding on Diplomatic Academies.
However, we acknowledge that the enormous challenge of boosting economic growth and generating new employment opportunities remains a reality for both of our countries.
We are aiming to strengthen political, economic and social relations through structured bilateral agreements and high‐level engagements to advance South Africa’s national priorities, the African Agenda and South‐South cooperation.
In this regard, we are pleased that Vice President Márquez will be joining the Business Forum later tomorrow, which brings together businesspeople from our respective countries.
We are looking forward to engage our two countries’ business sectors, as they are our socio-economic development partners.
The two nations will continue to facilitate mutually beneficial trade, investment, and technical cooperation in the following sectors through their Ministers and Senior Government Officials:
- Science and Technology
- Sport, Arts and Culture
On the basis of our respective countries’ priorities and competitive advantages, we agree on the need to increase investment in value addition in agriculture and agro-processing, mining equipment and related services.
Madam Vice President, South Africa welcomes the steady growth of investments from Colombia, especially in the agribusiness sector, which is significantly contributing to job creation and to our country’s growth and development.
As a country, we view Colombia as an important partner in the Latin American region that has potential for improved bilateral relations for the mutual benefit of both countries.
Similarly, we have been assured that the political and economic decision-makers, stakeholders, and role-players in Colombia see South Africa as a valuable partner, and are eager to strengthen and expand political, economic, and social relations to a more robust and strategic level.
During our official talks, we also had an opportunity to consider broad areas of cooperation and evaluated progress in the implementation of previous decisions and agreements.
In this regard, we reaffirmed our commitment of promoting peace, and objectives of sustainable development to improve the wellbeing of our citizens and multilateralism, which provide a basis for strengthening our bilateral relations.
We therefore hope that Her Excellency’s visit will increase these bonds of friendship and go a long way in improving the lives of the citizens of our respective countries and carry on the fight against inequality, unemployment, and poverty as envisioned in our National Development Plan.
In conclusion, Your Excellency, I wish you and your delegation, a pleasant stay here in South Africa, and look forward to working together to advance the development agenda of the south.
I thank you.
Issued by: The Presidency