South Africa and Russia could double their trade this year in comparison to last year, indicated Russian Natural Resources and Ecology Minister Yuri Trutnev. He was speaking in Pretoria on Thursday during the second and last day of the tenth meeting of the bilateral Intergovernmental Committee on Trade and Economic Cooperation (Itec).
In parallel with Itec, there was a meeting of the South Africa-Russia Business Council. “When the Business Council was formed [in 2006], it undertook the responsibility of making trade between our two countries [reach] $1-billion,” said Trutnev. “At the moment it is $300-million. “[By the end of] This year it could come to $600-million to $700-million.”
This year’s meeting of the Business Council was attended, he reported, by about 30 Russian and 70 South African companies. “The work of the Business Council has become very active,” he affirmed. “Our economic projects and the success of these projects creates trust and cooperation between our countries.”
“Congratulations to the joint Business Council for finally coming to the party and accelerating our trade and economic ties,” asserted South Africa International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.
The Business Council is now headed, on the South African side, by Robert Gumede (executive chairperson of GijimaAST) and, on the Russian, by Vladimir Kremer (MD of Renova).
Nkoana-Mashabane reported that she and Trutnev had agreed that there should be “frequent interaction through the Business Council in order to enhance knowledge of commercial opportunities and potential business opportunities; to prioritise capacity building and skills transfers, particularly in strategic and high technology areas. [And] To facilitate good cooperation between the South African and Russian Business Council chapters.”
The Business Council ranks as one of Itec’s ten technical joint subcommittees. The other nine are – justice, trade and investment and banking, minerals resources, energy, aviation and maritime transport, education, agriculture and forestry, water affairs, and science and technology.
“Itec has done a great job,” said Trutnev. “Itec remains a critical instrument for deepening the relations between our two countries,” avered Nkoana-Mashabane. “We had a very successful tenth session of Itec. Our silver jubilee meeting.”
Both ministers also highlighted the further opportunities for deepening cooperation between the two countries through the forum of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) group.