President Cyril Ramaphosa will travel to Washington this week following an invitation by United States President Joe Biden.

President Ramaphosa accepted the invitation delivered by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken during his recent visit to South Africa.

President Ramaphosa will hold talks at the White House with President Biden on 16 September 2022.

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), Minister Naledi Pandor, said the President’s visit to the US provides the government with an opportunity to strengthen bilateral relations through engagement and deepen multilateralism through the United Nations (UN), a primary vehicle through which the international community must confront the challenges facing the world.

The two leaders, according to Pandor, will discuss bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest, including:

  • Trade and investment
  • Climate change
  • Food security
  • Energy, and
  • Peace and security.

“President Ramaphosa will reaffirm the importance of the strategic and mutually beneficial relations between South Africa and the United States,” she said on Monday, adding that the First Citizen will emphasise the need for enhanced multilateralism and dialogue, through which the challenges facing humanity can be addressed.

“These include the urgent need to stimulate economic recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Pandor told media that President Ramaphosa and his delegation will also meet congressional leadership and veterans of the civil rights movements, who were instrumental in lobbying Americans against apartheid and remain loyal to the cause of anti-racism in both countries.

The US is a major export market for South Africa, a significant source of foreign direct investment (FDI), technology transfer, development assistance and tourism.

“Trade and investment relations take place under the auspices of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which grants duty-free and quota-free access to the US market for value-added products,” Pandor explained, adding that AGOA has created jobs in both countries.

Over the years, Pandor said the two-way trade between South Africa and the US has been on the surge.

The US is South Africa’s third largest trading partner after China and the European Union, with more than 600 American companies operating locally.

In 2021, the US ranked as the second largest destination for South Africa’s exports globally.

“South African firms have also become significant foreign investors in the US,” Pandor said.

Investments from South Africa into the US are also on the rise, with America accounting for 17.4% of total South African outward FDI to the world.

“South Africa’s foreign policy remains inspired by its history. The country, working with others, strives for the attainment of a just, humane and equitable world,.

“In conducting our international relations, we attach the utmost importance to promoting human rights, democracy, equitable justice and the rule of international law. The said principles place multilateral institutions, specifically the United Nations, at the centre of our foreign policy engagements and objectives,” said Pandor.

United Nations General Assembly

The Minister also announced that South Africa will take part in the high-level segment of the annual United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) at the UN headquarters in New York from 20 to 27 September 2022.

The meetings will take part under the theme, ‘A watershed moment: Unlocking transformative solutions to interlocking challenges’, and focus on development matters, specifically health, education and the broader implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“For the global South, the economic and socio-economic impact of COVID-19 has been disproportionately about recovery in the developed North,” said Pandor.

Preceding the general debate, the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, will convene a summit on ‘Transforming Education’, while discussing several climate-related matters and the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

According to Pandor, the various engagements at UNGA will provide the country with an opportunity to highlight matters of national, regional and international importance.

“South Africa’s participation in the general debate of the UNGA77 is a strategic opportunity for the promotion of our national and foreign policy objectives, as espoused in Chapter 7 of the National Development Plan, positioning South Africa in the world.”

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