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German president calls for 'new start' with South Africa

November 19, 2018

Steinmeier landed in South Africa on Monday for a three-day visit with a delegation of leading German businesses. Ahead of the visit, he praised South African President Cyril Ramaphosa's anti-corruption efforts.

German President Steinmeier in South Africa
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/B. von Jutrczenka

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier kicked off a three-day visit to South Africa on Monday to promote closer diplomatic and economic ties with Africa's second-largest economy.

"The time is ripe for a new start in German-South African relations," he told South Africa's Sunday Times newspaper ahead of the visit.

Read more: Trade ties dominate between Germany and South Africa

Steinmeier praised South African President Cyril Ramaphosa for fighting corruption and winning trust since entering office in February. He said those efforts would make the country – the only African member of the Group of Twenty (G20) industrialized countries – more attractive for German investments.

Helping South Africa's youth

A delegation of leading German businesses, including the chief executives of Siemens and state-owned development bank KfW , are accompanying Steinmeier during the visit.

Some 600 German companies operate in South Africa, Germany's biggest trading partner in Africa. In 2017, Germany exported €9.5 billion ($10.9 billion) to South Africa and imported €7.3 billion.

Foreign investors returning to South Africa after Zuma's departure

German firms in particular, Steinmeier said, were in a position to help South Africa's youth.

"The country needs prospects in the labor market for its young, ambitious population. That also requires investment," he said. "We want to make a contribution in this area."

Read more: Berlin concert pays tribute to Mandela

Green cooperation

Steinmeier also called on both countries to increase their cooperation in the United Nations and on tackling climate change.

"We want to support South Africa in actively advancing efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," he said.

Steinmeier, who is also set to visit neighboring Botswana, is scheduled to meet South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday in Cape Town.

Roman Herzog was the last German head of state to visit South Africa in 1998.

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