South Africa and Azerbaijan have agreed to establish a Joint Commission for Cooperation (JCC) in a bid to elevate relations and facilitate greater volumes of trade. The agreement was announced by Minister Nkoana-Mashabane and her Azerbaijan counterpart, Mr Elmar Mmamadyarov, at the conclusion of their bilateral talks in Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan.
Minister Nkoana-Mashabane paid a courtesy call on the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Mr Ilham Aliyev. Azerbaijan is considered as one of the most important countries in the world in oil exploration and development. The expansion of the oil and gas sector has enabled Azerbaijan to record rapid real GDP growth in recent years. Other important sectors are transport, agriculture, construction, services and manufacturing.
Trade between South Africa and Azerbaijan has potential for growth. In 2015, South African exports to Azerbaijan were at approximately R217m and imports at approximately R4m, and there is potential for growth. Ministers Nkoana-Mashabane and Mmamadyarov agreed that the two countries should explore further cooperation in the areas of energy, defence, aviation and skills development.
The two ministers also discussed developments in their respective regions and internationally. South Africa and Azerbaijan share a common commitment to multilateralism and the need to reform the United Nations, particularly the Security Council.
During the visit, a Memorandum of Understanding between the Diplomatic Academy of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa and ADA University of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan was signed.