Photo: Uruguay Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ms Carolina Ache Battle and Deputy Minister, Mr Alvin Botes Photo Credit: Yandisa Monakali / DIRCO

31 May 2022

South Africa and Uruguay successfully hosted the Inaugural Meeting of the Bilateral Consultations Mechanism (BCM) on 31 May 2022. The meeting was co-chaired by the Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa, Mr. Alvin Botes, and the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Oriental Republic of Uruguay, Ms Carolina Ache Batlle.

Importantly, the co-chairs noted that the shared values of a commitment to democracy, human rights, peaceful resolution of conflicts, sustainable development and multilateralism provide a solid foundation for strengthening of the sound and cordial relations between the two countries.

The Parties noted that the Memorandum of Understanding establishing the Bilateral Consultation Mechanism (BCM) in 2015 and the inaugural meeting of the BCM will give momentum to SA-Uruguay relations and determine priorities for bilateral and multilateral cooperation for the mutual benefit of both countries.

The Parties further noted that the meeting took place amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has presented the global community with unprecedented health and socio-economic challenges. The parties stressed the importance of global solidarity and a coordinated global response to these challenges through bilateral, regional, and multilateral cooperation.

During the meeting, the Parties agreed that both countries share numerous strategic priorities, such as equitable and sustainable growth and competitiveness of their economies to overcome challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality and to enhance the competitiveness of their economies.

The parties agreed to strengthen cooperation in the following sectors: agribusiness, defence and defence industries, minerals and energy (especially renewable energy), social development, sport, software development, and trade and investment.

On agribusiness, the parties agreed to facilitate trade, investment and technical cooperation.

On defence and defence industries, the two parties agreed to finalise the Memorandum of Understanding on Defence and to facilitate opportunities for defence industry trade and technical cooperation.

On mineral and energy cooperation – South Africa took note of the impressive achievement of Uruguay in energy security in the last 10 years with 97% of the country’s electricity coming from renewable energy. The Parties agreed to facilitate investment and technical cooperation in renewable energy and the exchange of knowledge and best practices. South Africa encouraged Uruguay to consider investment opportunities in the renewable energy sector in SA.

In the mining field, Uruguay acknowledged South Africa’s advanced mining and capital equipment capabilities. Both sides agreed to facilitate trade, investment and technical cooperation in the mining sector. In this regard, Uruguay is keen to share trade and investment opportunities in the mining sector with the South African mining and capital equipment industry.

The parties noted that notwithstanding South Africa’s comprehensive social security system, the challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment continue to beset the country. At the same time, the parties noted Uruguay’s achievements in eradicating extreme poverty and reducing poverty and inequality. Uruguay shared its best practices and lessons learnt through its social security system for consideration by the Department of Social Development.

The parties took note of engagements in sport since 2019v and stressed the importance of strengthening institutional and technical cooperation sport, especially football and rugby.  The Parties agreed on continued engagement this field, particularly engagements with the South African Football Association and the South African Rugby Union.

On software development, South Africa took noted that Uruguay is the largest exporter of software in Latin America and the third largest global exporter of software with a vast array of technology companies providing high value added and specialised services for banking, education, health, logistics and payments systems, tourism, and security. South Africa encouraged Uruguay to explore investment and technical cooperation opportunities in software development.

On trade and investment, both countries agreed on the need to promote trade and investment relations between the two countries, bilaterally and within the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) – MERCOSUR Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA).  To this end, the Parties expressed their satisfaction about the meeting between Vice Minister Batlle and the Johannesburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Importantly, the parties agreed that SACU and MERCOSUR countries to collectively and individually promote the opportunities presented by the PTA as agreed during the meeting of the SACU_MERCOSUR Joint Administrative Committee in October 2021.

Furthermore, South Africa shared information on Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and progress made thus to facilitate its implementation. South Africa shared the opportunities for trade and investment that the AfCFTA presents.

On the Diplomatic Spouses Work Exchange of Notes, Uruguay will share its inputs after the necessary internal processes.

The co-chairs exchanged views on global and regional developments. The parties acknowledged the human security challenges that global community is grappling with. In this regard, the parties emphasised the importance of multilateral cooperation through the United Nations and regional organisations to advance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which was adopted by the UN Sustainable Development summit in September 2015.

Uruguay and South Africa emphasised the importance of multilateralism and the relevance of the multilateral organisations, specifically in this post COVID-19 pandemic reality and the increase of conflicts in many parts of the world. They agreed on the role of multilateralism, the centrality of international law, the peaceful resolution of conflicts and friendly exchanges among countries, to secure peace, stability and sustainable development.

In this regard, both countries underlined the importance of United Nations Peacekeeping Operations and expressed their willingness to cooperate in this field. Furthermore, both countries highlighted their commitment to the implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 pertaining to Women, Peace and Security. In this regard, they committed to sharing good practices and to continue coordinating on this matter.

The parties re-affirmed their commitment to engage at regular intervals and expressed their confidence to hold the next Bilateral Consultation Mechanism meeting in Uruguay in 2023.

The co-Chairs look forward to the next meeting of South Africa – Uruguay Political Consultations to be hosted by Uruguay in Montevideo.

Issued by: Department of International Relations and Cooperation

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The Diplomatic Informer
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