On 20 October this year, deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa was in attendance at the Ninth Annual South Africa-Sweden Binational Commission in Stockholm. In his closing remarks presented to a number of distinguished dignitaries including Åsa Romson, the deputy prime minister of Sweden, he stated, “A closer cooperation between our countries will propel the birth of the world of our dreams.”

Environmental cooperation

Two of the noteworthy outcomes of the Commission were a memorandum of understanding signed between the two countries promising cooperation in the field of water resource management, as well as a letter of intent promising positive steps in environmental protections and climate change.

“These two instruments are critical in advancing co-operation, capacity building and knowledge-sharing in these important areas of our socio-economic development,” said deputy president Ramaphosa.

Additionally, South African students are set to benefit from the new corridors of learning and understanding opened up by the interaction. Sweden has promised to extend its current full-scholarship programme for students from South Africa for at least another three years.

“These programmes will allow our young people to study here in Sweden and acquire relevant skills which are essential to develop a diversified, growing economy. This is not just a welcomed critical deliverable of our solid, cooperation and partnership, but an important tangible outcome of this 9th session of the Binational Commission,” Ramaphosa added.

Cooperating for economic growth

Government has stated that It is through trade, investment, and economic growth strengthened by partnerships such as this, among other methods, that it plans to deliver a better life for the South African citizenry.

“Our partnership should therefore lead to greater market access for South African goods into Sweden in order to address the vast trade deficit which is currently in favour of Sweden,” said Ramaphosa.

The Department of Trade and Industry has researched and identified a number of products, including local wines, which have been and will continue to sell successfully in the Swedish market.

Ramaphosa also encouraged Swedish companies in South Africa to support local South African enterprises by procuring locally manufactured goods for the operation of their businesses. He further highlighted South Africa’s oceans economy as part of the country’s economic growth trajectory.

“We continue to be an important gateway to the rest of our continent, and working with us, companies from this country have a lot to benefit in a continent with a billion people living in it,” he concluded.