South Africa and the United Kingdom are strategic partners and share a mutual interest in a variety of issues. Trade and investment between the two countries is valued at £8.0 billion per annum.
During the 12th Session of the Joint Ministerial Commission in May 2021, in the UK, the two countries committed to strengthening the global international health system post the coronavirus pandemic.
The pandemic has claimed more than 200 000 lives in the United Kingdom and more than 100 000 in South Africa. The countries have worked together throughout the pandemic with a shared interest to ensure access to vaccines.
“South Africa and the UK are alive to the importance of increased vaccine manufacturing capability, including in Africa, and agreed to work together on this priority, “ highlighted the SA government’s statement following the session.
The UK is one of South Africa’s major export markets for agricultural products and value-added exports including clothing, automotive equipment, wine, furniture and a host of other products.
A brief history of ties between SA and UK
The royal family first visited South Africa in 1947. Following World War Two, King George VI, his wife Queen Elizabeth and their children Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret went on a three-month journey visiting countries in the Southern part of Africa including Southern Rhodesia, Swaziland and Basotho Land.
Queen Elizabeth II returned to South Africa in 1995 after the country’s first democratic elections. During the visit, the Queen awarded South Africa’s first democratic President, Nelson Mandela, the Order of Merit for the achievement of the transition from apartheid to democracy.
She returned to South Africa in 1999 and was received by President Thabo Mbeki.
In 2010, President Jacob Zuma visited the UK for three days where he addressed the South Africa and United Kingdom Business Seminar. The seminar was attended by a delegation consisting of more than 200 people. As part of the visit President Zuma engaged with business leaders at a meeting at Buckingham Palace.
“It has shown that ties between South Africa and the United Kingdom are getting even stronger. While we have had excellent relations in the past, the greatest opportunities for cooperation still lie ahead,” President Zuma said of the visit.
Last year, current President, Cyril Ramaphosa, visited the country for two days where he addressed the Annual Africa Summit.
The President used the trip to the UK to source further investment into SA and Africa:
On Thursday evening, Buckingham Palace announced the death of Queen Elizabeth II at the age of 96. President Cyril Ramaphosa has sent her condolences to the royal family.
“Her Majesty was an extraordinary and world-renowned public figure who lived a remarkable life. Her life and legacy will be fondly remembered by many around the world. The Queen’s commitment and dedication during her 70 years on the throne remain a noble and virtuous example to the entire world,” says President Ramaphosa.
Coverage of the Queen’s death: