South Africa desires access to Eurasian market, eyes Chinese yuan
The South African Ambassador to Russia says his country looks forward to partnering with the Eurasian Economic Union.
South African Ambassador to Russia Mzuvukile Jeff Maqetuka expressed to Sputnik his country's anticipation of partnering with the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and gaining access to its market, eyeing trade in the Chinese yuan.
"We look forward to this partnership [with EAEU] ... First, it is the partnership, market access. We are talking about the yuan market access here," he said.
South Africa seeks to expand cooperation with Russia in mineral extraction
Maqetuka also told Sputnik that South Africa is interested in fostering cooperation with Russia on the exploration and production of minerals, as well as attracting Russian investments in the country's energy sector.
The official noted that a delegation of 23 South African industrial companies is slated to attend the Mining World Russia trade exhibition in Moscow in April.
"We are still a major player in mining. That is why these companies are going to be there. This is going to be the biggest group of South African companies to come to Russia since COVID-19. Because it's the correct sector with us," Maqetuka said.
The South African Ambassador also told Sputnik that his country's national oil company PetroSA planned to restart dialogue with Russian energy giant Gazprom on investments in the South African energy sector.
"At the time, there were delays, but I can share with you that there is going to be an interaction between Gazprom and PetroSA. Because we were approached by the Gazprom executive, they are looking for investment in the oil and gas in South Africa," the diplomat said.
PetroSA is a state company and holds offshore fields in the Cape Town area in Mossel Bay, Maqetuka said, adding that oil development had started there in the 1970s.
"So Gazprom is interested in investing in any opportunity that they can get, but now we're expecting a meeting between Gazprom and PetroSA. We agree with the executives at PetroSA that the next meeting will have to be in person. Because there have been a number of virtual meetings that the two companies have had since the end of 2021, when this process started," the South African Ambassador said.
Furthermore, South Africa and its neighbors offered numerous opportunities for investment from Russian conglomerates and entrepreneurs, according to the diplomat. Considering that South Africa has already flagged its cooperation interests, it is now "up to the Russian companies to decide in which areas they want to invest," Maqetuka told Sputnik.
In another context, the South African diplomat said he expects the maritime drills with China and Russia to be carried out annually, noting that there is not necessary to respond to Washington's remarks and criticism.
"The key thing is the exercise is going to take place," the diplomat said in response to NATO and US comments.
Read more: Read more: S.Africa reviews US unilateral sanctions affecting unrelated sanctions
The South African National Defense Force (SANDF) said on Thursday that about 350 South African army personnel will participate in trilateral maritime drills with Russia and China, MOSI exercise, off the coast of South Africa's KwaZulu-Natal region in the Indian Ocean from February 17-27, noting that the first drills of this kind were conducted in November 2019.
"The question of the reactions, we see those things. We see it as part of the democratic processes. You cannot stop a fourth country criticizing the nature of exercise, you cannot stop them," he pointed out, stressing that his country's interests are above all foreign opinions.
The exercises aim to showcase the naval capabilities of the three nations, he added, noting that it is yet undecided when the next drills will take place.
"But looking at the track record already now from 2019, it is an ongoing annual event. And I am expecting that all chances are that even in 2024 there will be another exercise," he told Sputnik.
Cape Town recently took on the mantle of the leadership of the BRICS, a grouping comprised of Brazil, Russia, India, and China.
South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor said, as quoted by Sputnik on January 19, that the BRICS club of emerging economies seeks to discover a way of bypassing the dollar to create a fairer payment system that would not be skewed toward wealthy countries.
Pandor also said earlier that South Africa is calling on the United States to review its unilateral sanctions due to their impact on unrelated countries.
"We have always been concerned at the fact that there is a dominance of the dollar and that we do need to look at an alternative," he added.
It's worth noting that South African Defense Minister Thandi Modise revealed earlier this month that Washington is exerting increased pressure on African nations due to their relations with Russia.