The visit is of particular importance given that France is South Africa’s second largest trading partner in the European Union and South Africa is France’s largest trading partner in Africa.
At the 2019 South Africa Investment Conference, French companies pledged to invest R20 billion in the country.
The leaders meet at the Union buildings in Tshwane, after which they will visit the Africa Vaccine Production Support Initiative at the University of Pretoria. Discussions during the visit will focus on questions relating to the global response to Covid-19 and the economic, health, research and manufacturing responses to the current pandemic and beyond.
Leaders are expected to discuss the post-Covid-19 recovery, the ACT accelerator, a temporary intellectual property waiver from the World Trade Organization, and the future manufacture of Covid-19 and other vaccines in South Africa and the rest of the continent. France expressed its support at the Paris meeting for the proposal to allow the manufacture of vaccines in Africa in order to deploy Covid-19 vaccinations more quickly on the continent. France had also agreed that its private sector would work with South African manufacturers in joint ventures on vaccine production.
In addition to strengthening bilateral cooperation between the two countries, the engagement also aims to deepen understanding of multilateral and global issues of mutual interest, such as the need to reform the United Nations Security Council and the urgency to fight against climate change. The leaders will also discuss the establishment of a predictable framework for cooperation between Africa and the United Nations and its agencies to ensure peace and security on the African continent.
The South African ministerial delegation includes the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor, the Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize, the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology Dr Blade Nzimande, the Minister of Commerce, Industry and Competition Ebrahim Patel, and the Acting Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni.