On August 25, the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria hosted the sixth Annual Bilateral Forum (ABF) in Pretoria. A part of the United States – South Africa Strategic Dialogue, the ABF was co-chaired by U.S. Ambassador Patrick H. Gaspard and South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation Deputy Director General Yolisa Maya.
The ABF is a key component of the U.S. – South Africa Strategic Dialogue, established by former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Nkoana-Mashabane in 2010. It meets annually to review the cooperation that exists across various sectors, as implemented by bilateral working groups.
During the ABF, officials from the U.S. Embassy hosted counterparts in the South African government to review bilateral cooperation in 14 separate areas: trade and investment, agriculture, transportation, health, education, economic development, the environment, energy, water, science and technology, development cooperation/aid effectiveness, defense, safety and security, and customs and border security.
“Having been the U.S. Ambassador to South Africa for two years now, I continue to be impressed by the great work we do together on issues like education, health, and peace and security. At the ABF, there is great value for us in sitting down to take stock of where our bilateral relationship stands – what we are doing well and things that perhaps we can improve upon in the future. This meeting, and the papers developed in preparation for it, will inform both of our ministers, Secretary Kerry and Minister Mashabane, when they meet next month in Washington” said Ambassador Gaspard.
Deputy Director General Maya added, “The ABF continues to be an important forum to review and address challenges in our bilateral cooperation with the U.S. at a very practical level and where the impact is most needed to make a positive difference in the lives of the South African people. I am encouraged by the good progress being made by the various sectoral Working Groups and the willingness and determination by both sides to address the shortcomings that were identified and to intensify cooperation in areas of greatest need. From here on, our partnership can only grow stronger, with spin-offs for economic growth and job-creation, which will be beneficial for both our countries.”