March 7, 2022
The Embassy of the United States in South Africa hosted the 12th Annual Bilateral Forum (ABF) on 23 February 2022. The ABF Co-Chairs were Ambassador Maud Dlomo, Deputy Director-General: Americas and Europe at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) and Mr Todd Haskell, Chargé d’Affaires, ad interim of the Embassy of the United States.
The ABF is a key component of the Strategic Partnership between South Africa and the United States with the objective to review the implementation of the numerous ongoing cooperation programmes and projects between the two countries, which are aligned to South Africa’s domestic priorities and the National Development Plan (NDP), which aims to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by 2030.
Senior officials from South African Government Departments and their counterparts from the US Embassy made recommendations for continued and improved cooperation that advances the interests of both countries. The discussions within eight Working Groups focused on current and future bilateral cooperation in areas such as trade and investment, health, basic and higher education, agriculture, energy, water, environment, transportation, science and innovation, and safety and security.
Upon receiving positive feedback from all projects that are implemented by different sectors, both sides agreed that the partnership is based on a strong global health collaboration which has been improving for many decades.
The South African Government and the United States reaffirmed their collaboration in the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the two nations’ longstanding partnership to address HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. While the COVID-19 pandemic has posed unprecedented challenges to these efforts, the meeting affirmed the commitment to reaching HIV epidemic control as soon as possible and to collaborate on emerging global health threats and epidemic preparedness.
With regard to safety and security, both parties welcomed the robust and mutually beneficial cooperation and agreed to intensify collaboration in mutual legal assistance and other justice related matters. The two sides looked forward to relaunching the Bilateral Strategic Energy and Climate Change Dialogue and to work with other partners to support the Just Transition to a low carbon economy and a climate resilient society in South Africa.
In relation to the bilateral trade and investment relationship, it was noted that two-way trade in goods between the two countries grew from $13.9 billion in 2010 to a peak of $21 billion in 2021. Significantly, in 2021, the US ranked as the 2nd largest destination for South Africa’s exports globally. South Africa looked forward to hosting the AGOA Forum in 2022 and both sides undertook to work collaboratively to resolve non-tariff barriers to trade.
In science and technology there was appreciation for the good cooperation in the field of astronomy between SANSA and NASA, while the creation of hubs in South Africa for vaccine production and support for innovation to address diseases of relevance to South Africa and the African continent was welcomed. Reference was made to the robust and constructive cooperation in both higher and basic education, with an expansion in cooperation and US support for Technical and Vocational Educational Training (TVET) in South Africa. The parties further appreciated the ongoing interventions, at both national and local levels, to address gender-based violence (GBV), including community-based programmes targeting the youth and young women.
The parties agreed that the ABF remains an important platform to review and strengthen sectoral cooperation between the two countries. The parties also emphasised importance of better understanding each other’s priorities and challenges with a view to agreeing on the most effective implementation strategies to accomplish strategic objectives and goals.
South Africa and the United States reaffirmed their mutual desire for an even stronger partnership in regional and multilateral fora in the post COVID-19 global environment; to continue promoting shared values for increased peace and prosperity for all, human rights; and to support efforts toward global economic recovery.