South Africa, EU to tackle job creation
19 July 2013
The 6th South Africa-European Union Summit ended in Pretoria on Thursday with the leaders of the two sides in agreement that joint programmes in education and training were needed to address the common challenge of job creation.
In a joint communiqué issued after the summit, South African President Jacob Zuma, EU Commission president José Manuel Barroso and European Council president Herman Van Rompuy said education and training were the key factors contributing to job creation and economic growth.
The two sides vowed to take their education and training cooperation to the next
level under the Youth Employment Accord and promote technical support and
exchange programmes for youth development.
"We will continue high level discussions on addressing the shared challenges of youth
employment, as well as the way which skills and training can contribute to South
Africa's infrastructure expansion," the communiqué
"Under the EU financed development programme, approximately R650-million - €50-million - remains available to support job creation initiatives."
'Job creation through investment'
With the summit's central theme being "Job Creation through Inward Investment",
Zuma said South Africa still faced the inherited challenges of unequal wealth and
resource distribution, inequality, unemployment and deeply entrenched poverty.
"We are of the firm view that given these realities, the EU should continue its
development programmes in South Africa, complementing as they do the work of
government within a developmental framework," Zuma said.
Barroso said Europe was also still working on addressing the scourge of youth
Given that South Africa was also working to promote growth and jobs to diversify its
economy to ensure that its development is inclusive, the two sides could both
benefit from working more together
to face these challenges, Barroso said.
"I would even say that Europe is South Africa's natural partner to do it. South Africa
is now an emerging economy with different types of needs, so we must adapt our
cooperation accordingly," he said.
"But certainly, we want to keep development cooperation with South Africa. This is
why I have proposed to focus our future cooperation on job creation, education,
skills and innovation and capacity development."
Energy pact signed
The summit also saw South Africa and the European Atomic Energy Community sign
an agreement of cooperation on the use of nuclear energy.
The deal, which was signed by new Minister of Energy Ben Martins, will see an
intensified roll out of rural electrification, with an initial target of 300 000 households
in the remote areas of South Africa.
Parties to the deal also agreed on a new R1.3-billion support programme to blend
grants with loans from the
Development Bank of Southern Africa and the European
Development Finance Institutions to support South Africa's infrastructure
Narrowing the trade deficit
Leaders at the summit also looked at the trade deficit, which is in favour of the EU
and agreed to cement growth by remaining committed to "open and transparent
trade" rules by working on policies that promote bilateral trade and investment that
is mutually beneficial.
Total trade with EU countries last year was R383-billion, compared to R419-billion in
2008. In 2008, SA exported R186-billion worth of goods, which fell to R122-billion in
Imports from the EU have recovered to more than the levels that they reached in
2009. Imports were R233-billion in 2008, while they were R239-billion last year.
At least 2 000 EU companies have invested over R60-billion in foreign direct
investment (FDI) and have created 350 000 direct jobs in South
Barroso said negotiations were ongoing on citrus black spot in the export of
South African produce to Europe and he was confident that a mutually beneficial
agreement would soon be reached.
SA had cautioned that the "upgraded surveillance" would greatly affect the South
African citrus industry, which exports around 100-million cartons to 45 countries,
generating R6-billion in foreign exchange.
This would also lead to job losses as the industry employed 40 000 permanent
workers and 40 000 seasonal workers.
'Gaining market access'
The leaders also discussed the October 2014 deadline imposed by the EU for the
conclusion of the economic partnership agreement (EPA) with the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) countries. The EPA gives the SADC countries
preferential market access for their agricultural and agro-processed products.
South Africa had warned that the threat of withdrawing preferential market
for products from South Africa and neighbouring countries such as Botswana,
Namibia and Swaziland would have devastating socio-economic consequences as it
would lead to significant job losses.
"We agreed that the negotiations should conclude shortly. We reaffirmed the
importance of reaching an agreement that is mutually beneficial, enhances growth
and generates jobs, and supports development and integration in Southern Africa,"
the communiqué reads.
Supporting peace efforts
The summit also touched on global issues such as climate change, human rights and
the troubled areas including Syria, Madagascar, Egypt, the Great Lakes region and
Zimbabwe's upcoming elections.
Van Rompuy said the EU supported the mediatory efforts by President Zuma and
SADC to forge an agreement between the squabbling political parties.
The EU will respond to the outcome of the elections on evidence of peaceful and
transparent elections with
results that are accepted by all, according to Van
"We look forward to normalisation of relations and deepening out partnerships with
Zimbabwe," he said.
Over all, the leaders said that relations between the South Africa and the European
Union were "at a mature stage", with the two sides as powerful engines to boost and
benefit both economies.
"Our strategic partnership with South Africa is also an integral part of our special
relationship with the African continent," Borroso said.
The 7th SA-EU summit will be hosted by the EU in 2014.