South Africa

South Africa, EU dismiss claim largest trading partner is being snubbed

South Africa’s government and the European Union delegation to the country stressed the strength of their relationship and said that they were working on holding a bilateral summit.

Plans to hold the gathering last year were thwarted because South Africa hadn’t committed to a date, Bloomberg reported on Monday, citing people familiar with the situation.

An EU spokesperson in Europe said in a reply to queries that it “unfortunately” hadn’t been possible to hold the summit last year.

“South Africa and the European Union have maintained a regular exchange throughout 2023 in order to prepare their bilateral summit,” the government and EU delegation said in a statement on Tuesday, rejecting the claim that Pretoria hadn’t suggested or set a date.

The people familiar with the situation, who asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to discuss the topic publicly, said the delay was fueling concern among Western powers that South Africa is turning increasingly toward Russia and China and neglecting relations with Europe.

South Africa and the EU delegation said they rejected that notion. 

The EU is South Africa’s biggest trade partner. The summits are meant to reflect the bloc’s strategic partnership with South Africa, the only nation on the continent with which it has such a relationship.


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