STATEMENT ON PRESIDENT THABO MBEKI'S VISIT TO ALGERIA
President Thabo Mbeki will co-chair the First Session of the Binational Commission (BNC) between South Africa and Algeria, which will be held in Algiers from 22 to 24 September 2000 with President Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria. The South African delegation, including numerous Ministers, a large number of officials and a business contingent, will be led by the South African President, Thabo Mbeki. The First Session of the Binational Commission will coincide with a State Visit by President Mbeki to Algeria.
The Joint Bilateral Commission (JBC) between South Africa and Algeria was established in 1998, as a direct result of the good bilateral relations between the two countries. On agreement between President Mbeki and President Bouteflika, the JBC with Algeria was upgraded to presidential level and was consequently replaced by the Binational Commission (BNC), the first of which will be held in Algiers from 22 to 24 September 2000.
The aim of the BNC is to institutionalise the good relations that have been in existence between South Africa and Algeria since official relations were established in May 1994. The BNC with Algeria is the only Commission that South Africa has with another country at Presidential level, which highlights the importance of the political relations between the two countries. The BNC will be used to discuss issues of national, binational, continental and international concern, such as the alleviation of the debt burden of the Third World, as well as manners of addressing the scourge of HIV/AIDS in Africa.
To date nine bilateral agreements have been signed within the framework of the JBC with regard to co-operation in the fields of science and technology, trade, taxation and animal health. It is expected that further agreements could be signed during the BNC. The nine agreements cover: a commission for joint co-operation; a convention for the avoidance of double taxation; customs co-operation; science and technology; sports; tourism; bilateral air services; merchant shipping and animal health.
The South African delegation will consist of Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Minister Alec Erwin, Minister Didiza, Minister Lekota, Minister Radebe, Minister Steve Tshwete, Minister Valli Moosa and Minister Ngubane, as well as representatives of the Departments of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Industry, Arts, Culture, Science and Technology, Minerals and Energy, Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Agriculture and Land Affairs, Communications, and Sport and Recreation. The non-governmental sector will be represented by such diverse institutions as Soekor, the Central Energy Fund, Grintek, Umgeni Water, Murray and Roberts, the Cape Chamber of Commerce, Pipeline Performance Technology, CGIC, Ninham Shands and the CSIR.
It is expected that various projects would be identified during the interactions between the two delegations. Since official relations with Algeria were established in 1994, bilateral trade has more than doubled and shows promise of increasing even more.
This very important event also addresses the core of what has become a vision towards revival, and by linking the extremities of our continent gives a symbolism to this BNC, emphasising the importance of an African Renaissance.
For more information contact Ronnie Mamoepa at 082-990-4853
Issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs, 19 September 2000