Your Excellency, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Portugal, Prof Augusto Santos Silva,
The Ambassador of Portugal to South Africa, Ambassador Carvalho;
Distinguished Members of the South African and Portuguese Delegations;
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you and your delegation to South Africa and to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation.
South Africa and Portugal have a strong and historic relationship and I am pleased with the new momentum that we are currently experiencing.
I was pleased at the opportunity that our two Presidents had to meet briefly in Maputo on January 15th when they both attended the inauguration of President Nyusi of Mozambique. These political interactions are very important and for this reason I am pleased and honoured that you are here today. It shows the interest that you, Minister, and your Government have in developing relations with South Africa and we recognise and appreciate that. I want to assure you that I and the Government of South Africa share these sentiments and I therefore look forward to our engagement this afternoon.
I know that this visit is also an opportunity for you, Minister, to meet with members of the Portuguese diaspora and Portuguese communities in South Africa. I understand that South Africa has the third largest Portuguese community in the world after those in France and Brazil. We value them first and foremost as South Africans who contribute to our country's cultural diversity, and we also recognise the contribution that they make to building relations between our two countries through the cultural, family and business ties that they have with Portugal.
As you may be aware, the South African Government strives to provide better living conditions for our people and our national blue print, the National Development Plan: Vision 2030, serves as a guiding light for us to realise that dream. I believe that today's deliberations will allow us to further explore areas of mutual cooperation, which would benefit both the South African and Portuguese people.
In 2018, the President hosted the first Presidential Investment Summit in Johannesburg, which is part of his strategy to attract US$100 billion in new investment over a five-year period. This was followed by the second one in November last year, at which more investment was pledged, these Investment Conferences, which are held back to back with the Africa-wide one will now become annual events going forward. Our bilateral relations have a strong economic component and I wish to assure you that South Africa is open for business and that we have tailor-made incentives for foreign companies that wish to invest or do business with us. We are also working tirelessly to improve the ease of doing business in South Africa.
Africa remains a key focus for South Africa's foreign policy, and our prosperity is very much linked to that of the continent. The African Union's Agenda 2063, and other socio-economic development programmes are the corner stones and foundation of Africa's development agenda. In February 2019, we deposited an instrument of ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCTA), one of the flagship projects of the Agenda 2063. The agreement will allow African countries to trade better with each other by eliminating trade barriers.
With these words, allow me to once again to welcome you to South Africa. I would like to invite you to make your opening remarks before we address the issues we have on our agenda for today.
I thank you.
Source: Department of International Relations and Cooperation