Bilateral economic and trade relations between South Africa and New Zealand are on a steady rise, but both nations recognize the need for further efforts to enhance growth and cooperation. This sentiment was echoed by Dr Naledi Pandor, South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, during a recent bilateral meeting with her New Zealand counterpart, Nanaia Mahuta, held in Cape Town.
The economic ties between these two nations have been steadily growing, with the total trade volume amounting to an impressive R3 billion. Of this, R1 billion comprises exports from South Africa to New Zealand, while imports from New Zealand stand at R2 billion. While South Africa ranks as New Zealand’s 35th export market, it holds the 18th position in terms of visitor sources.
Minister Pandor expressed optimism in further deepening these economic ties, stating, “I’m sure that we can put shoulder to the wheel and work on improving these figures. We have the potential to trade more with each other.”
The historical context of the relationship between New Zealand and South Africa was not lost in the discussion. The ties between the two nations trace back to the colonial era, with significant milestones during the apartheid era. Minister Pandor acknowledged New Zealand’s role in isolating the apartheid regime, noting that even during the challenging times of apartheid, New Zealand demonstrated a strong stance against the regime, leading to the eventual re-establishment of full diplomatic relations on 19 January 1994.
A significant turning point in their relations came with the lifting of trade, investment, and financial sanctions against apartheid in 1994, following the inauguration of South Africa’s first fully democratic government. This marked a testament to the shared values of democracy, human rights, and international cooperation between the two nations.
Pandor also highlighted the extensive areas of cooperation beyond trade and economics. These include shared interests in tourism, agriculture, disarmament, fisheries, environment, indigenous and human rights, as well as sports. Notably, New Zealand’s steadfast support for the anti-apartheid movement and the sports boycott during apartheid played a pivotal role in raising global awareness of the struggle against apartheid.
Since establishing bilateral diplomatic relations, South Africa and New Zealand have successfully concluded nine agreements, further solidifying their commitment to collaboration. A recent development in this regard is the impending signing of a Memorandum of Cooperation on Bilateral Cooperation, which Minister Pandor views as another testament to the growing relations between the two countries.
The cooperation extends to the international stage as well, with both nations actively engaging in multilateral forums such as the United Nations (UN) and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). Shared perspectives on global issues, including the protection of oceans, sustainable agricultural development, and nuclear non-proliferation, have further strengthened their ties.
In 2019, South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, announced significant changes in visa requirements, allowing New Zealanders to enter South Africa visa-free for up to 90 days for tourism purposes. This move aimed to facilitate greater people-to-people interactions and enhance tourism opportunities between the two nations.
Minister Mahuta’s visit to Cape Town is also marked by her attendance at the Netball World Cup semi-final match, scheduled for August 5, 2023. Expressing her enthusiasm, Pandor playfully remarked, “I wish the Silver Ferns well, but not if they are playing against our Proteas.”
The recent Netball World Cup match held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) showcased the sportsmanship and prowess of both nations. The electrifying game culminated in an exhilarating draw, with South Africa’s Spar Proteas holding the reigning champions, New Zealand’s Silver Ferns, to a 48-48 tie. Minister Pandor commended the performance of the Proteas and celebrated the thrilling display of talent on both sides.
As the economic and diplomatic ties between South Africa and New Zealand continue to evolve, opportunities for growth and collaboration abound. Both nations remain committed to strengthening their relations, not only in trade and commerce but also in areas of shared values and global initiatives. The ongoing efforts reflect a promising future of cooperation, mutual respect, and shared prosperity.