07 Nov 2013 16:00pm
WINDHOEK, 07 NOV (NAMPA) - The Namibian and South African governments on Thursday inaugurated the Bi-National Commission (BNC), an instrument aimed at promoting and strengthening the two countries economic, diplomatic and cultural ties.
Bilateral co-operation between Namibia and South Africa had previously been conducted through the Annual Heads of State Economic Bilateral Meeting, and the Namibia/South Africa Joint Commission on Defence and Security, which used to meet in South Africa and Namibia alternately.
During President Hifikepunye Pohamba's State visit to South Africa last year, the two governments signed an agreement for the establishment of the BNC.
This commission will elevate our relations to a new level of cooperation, which will strengthen dialogue between our two governments. I have no doubt that the Bi-National Commission will create a platform from which our people will further consolidate partnerships for economic growth and social development of our two sister countries and our fraternal peoples, Pohamba said during the commissions inaugural session, which was also attended by South Africa's president Jacob Zuma in the capital.
Zuma is in Namibia on a two-day State visit.
As we inaugurate this Bi-National Commission, we remain cognisant of the deep-rooted historical and cultural heritage that binds our two peoples together, the Namibian Head of State noted.
He said this historical bond forms the foundation on which the two countries' partnership exists, adding that the bilateral programmes and agreements are in line with the countries long-term national interests.
On his part, Zuma said the commission will broaden Namibia and South Africas cooperation beyond economic areas to include political, social and security matters.
Its establishment was a natural progression, as the two countries already cooperate in a wide range of areas such as trade and investment, energy, agriculture, health, mining, transport, environment, tourism, science and technology, education, security and water, amongst others.
We look forward to further boosting economic cooperation. Trade levels remain high, but we can and must push trade volumes even higher. Our deliberations should also help us to put a firm foundation in our collective fight against poverty, under-development and unemployment, he stated.
Zuma emphasised that the BNCs deliberations should also contribute to taking forward regional integration and the promotion of intra-African trade, and in particular infrastructural development, to ease the movement of people and goods.
Namibia and South Africa have to date signed 52 agreements and memoranda of understanding on various issues, including environmental matters, marine and coastal management, transport, energy, science and technology, trade and industry, spatial development initiatives, defence and security, agriculture and regional integration.
Zuma and his entourage arrived in Windhoek on Wednesday, and leave for South Africa on Thursday afternoon.