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South Africa and the Netherlands to take forward bilateral relations

South Africa and the Kingdom of the Netherlands are set to elevate and reaffirm the longstanding and warm bilateral relations when the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, His Excellency Mr Mark Rutte, undertakes an Official Visit to South Africa on 17-18 November 2015, at the invitation of President Jacob Zuma.

President Zuma met Prime Minister Rutte at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January this year and asked him to visit South Africa.

The bilateral relationship between South Africa and the Netherlands is cordial and multifaceted.   The Dutch activists and later the Dutch government played a critical part in the international struggle against apartheid. 

It is in this context that the roving Signs of Solidarity exhibition was showcased at various locations in both South Africa and the Netherlands in the course of 2014 as part of South Africa’s 20 years of Democracy celebration. It depicted the commitment and role of the Netherlands in the anti-apartheid struggle and was a combined effort by the SA Embassy in The Hague and members of the former anti-apartheid movements.

Since 1994, South Africa and the Netherlands have forged a solid partnership that transcends many fields including economic, trade, science and technology, education, judicial, multilateral and culture to mention but a few.
 
A Declaration of Intent (DOI) was signed on 11 October 2005 providing the framework for co-operation and for a bilateral consultations mechanism. The areas of co-operation include political, economic, cultural and social co-operation.
 
Economic
The Netherlands is of particular interest to South Africa as a trade and investment partner. Total trade between the two countries increased consistently from R27.1 billion in 2010 to R48.2 billion in 2014, a percentage increase of 77.9%. Exports were valued at R14.2 billion in 2005 and increased to R27 billion in 2008, a percentage increase of 47.4%.
 
Netherlands has invested in about 40 projects in South Africa with direct investment volume estimated at over R15.4 billion over the period 2003-2015 in the following sectors: Financial Services, Aerospace, transport, business services, biotechnology and IT & Software. These projects have created 2,731 estimated jobs (Source SARS).
  
The strong business component of the Official Visit provides an opportunity for South African businesses to explore new partnerships and increase trade and investment with the Netherlands.
 
Education
The cooperation between Dutch and South African universities has a history of well over a hundred years. These relations soared in the post-apartheid years, when several large cooperation projects were undertaken with Dutch development cooperation funding.

Agriculture
On 7 July 2014, a Statement of Intent was signed between the ministry of Economic Affairs of the Netherlands (MinEZ) and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in the Gauteng Provincial Government.
The statement is about:
· Greenhouse solutions
· Development of agro parks in Gauteng
· Vocational training for horticulture
· Demonstration of Dutch greenhouse technology in local setting
· Business models for Public Private Partnerships and Cooperatives
 
Another area of cooperation is the RSA-Netherland Horticulture Business Platform, a group of South African and Dutch public and private stakeholders, promoting greenhouse farming in the country for food security and rural employment. It was established in March 2013 in Pretoria and meets twice a year to discuss progress and plan activities. Several initiatives have started in the field of technical conferences, demonstration projects and the training of farmers.  The Platform awards the Horticulture Innovation Prize twice a year.

Water and Sanitation
The Netherlands and South Africa work closely together in sustainable water management and have anchored that cooperation in a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’, between the South African Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) and the Dutch ministry of Infrastructure and Environment (I and M) signed in 2013. The cooperation involves many private and public and educational partners.

Examples of the cooperation are:
· The Centre of Expertise (COE) successfully aims to improve the South-African water supply and sanitation sector by showcasing Dutch knowledge and technology based on needs identified by its host in Durban, the eThekwini Water and Sanitation.
· The ‘Kingfisher’ project, which links the Dutch Water Authorities to the newly formed South African‘ Water Catchment Management Authorities (CMA’s), exchanging knowledge and best practices with a view of mutually beneficial capacity building
· The Dutch ‘ORIO’ programme which has a project portfolio in South Africa of five projects, of which four are in the field of water and sanitation in kwaZulu-Natal with a total value of 150 million Euros, of which the Netherlands will fund around one third.
Transport and Logistics
The Dutch transport and logistics sector has shown its commitment and confidence in the SA market by significantly investing in the country. There are at least 18 large companies with a physical presence in the country, including international players such as VDL Bus and Coach; Damen Shipyards, Mammoet and Royal HaskoningDHV.

The knowledge sharing and skills development element is very important in this sector. The Dutch government financially supports an International Labour Organisation-implemented project to improve labour relations and port worker skills in the harbours of Richards Bay and Durban and is also investigating the establishment of a Maritime / Supply Chain Executive Course in collaboration with the University of Stellenbosch and relevant Dutch partners
A key area of mutual interest is smart and sustainable port (and other transport) developments. Rotterdam’s environmental protection agency is currently concluding an MoU with the municipality of eThekwini and Transnet to provide environmental protection advice.

Renewable energy
The Netherlands identified renewable energy as key sector in 2012 and the country’s mission in South Africa commissioned market entry studies on four subsectors in 2013: waste-to-energy, bio energy, green buildings and wind energy. These were presented to Dutch industry June 2013 and were followed up with trade mission to SA October 2013.

Several Dutch companies are currently following up on that mission by investing or doing further feasibility studies.

Health
After a fact-finding mission in April 2014, the task force health-care (TFHC) in The Netherlands has decided it wants to engage in a long-term relationship with South-Africa. TFHC promotes sustainability in healthcare internationally. The partners in the platform are Dutch knowledge institutes, NGOs, the government and companies.

The Dutch identified an emphasis in South-Africa on medical technology, hospital-building, medical research, medical training. Health insurance is another area of interest. There are already long-lasting relationships between Dutch knowledge institutes and South-African universities in this field.

Cooperation in Space Science and Technology
The Netherlands is a strategic partner for South Africa, specifically with their involvement in the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project. Another area of priority in this collaboration is in the field of astronomy and big data which gained momentum in 2012 following a visit by the Netherlands Organisation of Scientific Research (MWO) to explore collaboration. In July 2014, a DST delegation visited the Netherlands to advance partnerships in Astronomy and Big Data Partnerships between South Africa and Netherlands. The visit was aimed at deepening existing collaborations and to further explore new possibilities in astronomy and big data within the context of developments in SKA and cyber-infrastructure investments in South Africa.

Building on the long-running ties between scientists in South Africa and the Netherlands, a joint agreement was entered into by the National Research Foundation (NRF) and MWO in 2012 to promote exchange of researchers and students, joint seminars and research projects.  Both sides committed a budget of up to R 5 million over a five years period which ends in 2016. 
 
In March 2014, a DST delegation visited the Netherlands to explore   opportunities for collaboration in the bio-based economy with the Netherlands and to develop proposals that will strengthen the industrial section of the bio-economy. Efforts continue to explore cooperation in this area.
 
 
Enquiries: Bongani Majola on 082 339 1993 or bonganim@presidency.gov.za
 
Issued by: The Presidency
Pretoria