Ramaphosa, May all smiles as they commit to closer partnership between SA, UK
President Cyril Ramaphosa and British Prime Minister Theresa May made a renewed commitment on Tuesday to forge a closer partnership between SA and the UK.
This as Ramaphosa continues his drive to attract investment to the country and May looks to future trade opportunities amid complex Brexit negotiations.
They identified key sectors for investment to boost economic growth and development - including manufacturing, agro-processing, infrastructure development, mining, energy and tourism.
May touched down in a misty and cold Cape Town early on Tuesday morning for a one-day whistle-stop working visit to SA before travelling on to Nigeria and Kenya later this week.
Ramaphosa thanked May for visiting and bringing much needed rain.
The pair walked into a media briefing at Tuynhuys with matching smiles and warm orange-red tones with her suit and his tie.
Their delegations appeared jovial after a bilateral meeting earlier in the day and a tête-à-tête between the two heads of state.
"During our talks, we reviewed a range of issues of a bilateral, continental and global nature," said Ramaphosa.
"We have noted with great satisfaction the strong relationship between South Africa and the United Kingdom in wide-ranging areas of co-operation including energy, science and technology, education, health, arts and culture."
Touching on Brexit, he said he wished May well with continued negotiations on the UK's exit from the EU.
He said these negotiations should conclude in a way that restored stability to economic and financial markets.
"Their exit also has an impact on our economy," he noted.
The pair welcomed the signing on Tuesday of a joint statement on the UK, Southern African Customs Union and Mozambique Economic Partnership Agreement, whose aim is to ensure continuity of trade relations.
May expressed her delight at beginning her trip in Cape Town, where she noted the late statesman Nelson Mandela had delivered his first speech after being released from prison.
Acknowledging productive discussions with Ramaphosa, she said she wished to deepen the friendship as the UK was one of South Africa's largest trade partners.
SS Mendi bell handed over
Referring to the joint statement signed in her presence, she said: "This important step will provide strong foundations upon which we can build a closer relationship".
She told Ramaphosa that her government continued to fully support his drive to attract investment and wanted to see British companies play a central role in this.
The two countries will partner to train the next generation of scientists and leaders.
May said she would make more scholarships available in this regard.
In a gesture marking the countries' shared history, May handed over the ship's bell from the SS Mendi.
The ship sank in the English Channel in 1917, killing more than 600 members of the South African Native Labour Corps.
Ramaphosa said SA appreciated the handing over of the bell.
"The gift of this bell is like returning their souls to the land of their birth. May their souls rest in peace."
Reacting to May's speech on Tuesday morning, Oxfam Chief Mark Goldring said: "While the prime minister's engagement with African superpowers is a welcome step forward, it's an uncomfortable fact that extreme levels of poverty are increasing in the countries she is visiting despite recent economic growth."
He said it was vital that the UK promoted growth that "supports the world's poorest first and foremost, and that UK trade interests don't inadvertently increase inequality".
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