THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Vice President
VICE PRESIDENT GORE AND DEPUTY PRESIDENT MBEKI ANNOUNCE TRADE AGREEMENT AT U.S.-SOUTH AFRICA BINATIONAL COMMISSION Fifth Plenary Meeting Also Sees Clean Energy Agreement and Establishment of New Committee on Law Enforcement
Cape Town, South Africa -- Vice President Al Gore and South African Deputy Prime Minister Thabo Mbeki today at the close of the Fifth Plenary Session of the U.S.-South Africa Binational Commission announced a new Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) that offers the promise of expanded trade between the two countries.
The agreement will create a bilateral "Council on Trade and Investment" that will meet regularly to discuss specific trade and investment matters. The agreement -- negotiated by the U.S. Trade Representative and the South African Ministry of Trade and Industry and signed today in Cape Town by U.S. Commerce Secretary William Daley and South Africa Trade Minister Alec Erwin -- comes just six months after Vice President Gore and Deputy President Mbeki announced the decision to begin discussions toward a TIFA in an executive session of the BNC held in Washington last August.
"This new trade agreement is an important step toward increasing commerce between our two nations," Vice President Gore said. "The fact that it was negotiated so smoothly and quickly is a tribute to our Trade and Investment Committee, and the warm personal relations between our two countries that are a feature of the Binational Commission. Deputy President Mbeki and I are confident this new agreement will help speed the expansion of two-way trade and investment, and ultimately lead to greater prosperity for both America and South Africa."
In addition, Gore and Mbeki announced the establishment of the eighth BNC committee -- the Justice and Anti-Crime Cooperation Committee -- co-chaired by U.S. Attorney General Reno on the U.S. side, and Ministers Mufamadi and Omar on the South African side.
"This committee will enhance U.S-South African cooperation in the critical area of crime-fighting," Gore said. "It will give South African officials access to resources from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Agency, Customs, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the State Department's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement and other U.S. law enforcement agencies. It is a step forward for crime-fighting cooperation between the U.S. and South Africa."
Gore and Mbeki also announced an agreement to work together to promote clean energy initiatives that will address climate change goals while promoting economic growth. Sustainable Energy Committee co-chairs Secretary Richardson and Minister Maduna agreed to focus efforts on promoting energy efficiency, renewable energy, clean power generation, natural gas market development, and bringing clean energy systems to unelectrified areas in South Africa.
In particular, the Committee agreed that the introduction of new energy technologies can expand the availability of affordable power for South Africa's citizens including those living in rural areas, minimize greenhouse gas emissions, and contribute to new jobs and economic growth. They also agreed to work across several committees of the BNC to establish joint projects to address climate change.
The two nations have also agreed to work together with other countries in the region to promote clean energy, protect the environment, and address the issue of climate change.
"This is a prime example of how we can build the economy even as we protect the environment," Vice President Gore said. "I am especially proud that the United States and South Africa are agreeing to act as partners in this pursuit. It underscores the growing importance of international cooperation as we develop the technologies and approaches that will help us create the quality of life we all seek in the 21st century."
In addition, in the area of housing, both sides agreed to elevate the Housing Working Group to full committee status within the Commission.
The next meeting of the U.S.-South Africa Commission will be in executive session, later in the year, with the dates to be announced this summer.
More information on the U.S.-South Africa Binational Commission is available at: http://www.usia.gov/regional/bnc
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