South Africa is Germany’s most important partner in Africa and the country’s biggest trading partner on the continent, says Federal Republic of Germany ambassador to South Africa Dr Horst Freitag.
He notes that South Africa is Germany’s most important partner in research and technology, and a favourite desti- nation for German tourists coming to Africa.
“Trade is what builds nations and gene- rates trust among people. In numbers, Germany is South Africa’s second-biggest trading partner. “In 2012, Germany supplied goods and services totalling R113.2-billion to South Africa. Simultaneously, South Africa exported goods and services totalling R65.6-billion to Germany. It is in the interest of both countries to further strengthen this relationship and maintain the partnership on a level playing field,” he says.
Freitag adds that what puts this partnership in a class of its own is its sustainability and cooperative spirit.
“Our cooperation is not focused on extracting natural resources. Germany is the number one foreign investor in the production and manufacturing industry in South Africa. “We believe in beneficiation instead of extraction. More than 600 German companies manufacture and produce in South Africa, providing secure jobs for over 90 000 employees. Products that are made in Germany and South Africa are a trademark for quality worldwide. Our companies substantially enhance educa- tion and training programmes in high- tech areas. “They operate at the global forefront of green technology and meet their obligations as good corporate citizens committed to sound corporate governance and ongoing social responsibility,” explains Freitag.
He points out that Germany is a prime destination for South African exports and investments.
“It is South Africa’s largest market for manufactured goods. As a social market economy, it provides institutional and legal security, first-class education and innovative state-of-the-art research and science,” he says, adding that these are just a few positive incentives for South African companies to invest in Germany.
“In 2012 and 2013, Germany and South Africa celebrated a joint year of science and research, which strengthened our relations in areas such as climate change, human capital development, health and earth systems, to name but a few,” he says.
Freitag notes that a field where Germany has seen dynamic developments in the recent past is the energy sector.
“As South Africa gears up to diversify its energy mix in support of a more sus- tainable and reliable supply, German companies have begun transferring green technologies to South Africa, developing skills and creating jobs in the process.
“The recent signing of a joint declaration of intent on the establishment of an energy partnership bears testimony to both our governments’ high expectations for mutually beneficial, cross-sectoral coopera- tion, ranging from wind and solar energy through biomass and biogas all the way to green coal technologies,” he adds.
He states that Germany is convinced that green technologies present as significant opportunities for South Africa as they do for Germany, where more than 300 000 new jobs have been created in this sector during the past few years alone.
“It is in this spirit that I am looking forward to intensifying our partnership, which holds huge potential across many sectors,” he says.