Bilateral set to cement SA-US relations

Anti-money laundering, climate financing and sovereign debt resolution in Africa are expected to top the agenda when Finance Minister, Enoch Godongwana, engages United States Secretary of Treasury, Janet Yellen, during a bilateral meeting on Thursday.

Addressing media ahead of the closed meeting today, Godongwana described the bilateral as a “momentous occasion”.

He said there had been constructive cooperation between the two countries through the G20 and the Financial Stability Board, including making appropriate regulatory standards for the financial sector.

“There has also been broader cooperation between the US and the African region,” said the Minister.

He said he was pleased that Yellen was at the forefront of US government leaders advancing the US administration’s initiatives to bolster trade, economic and financial relations with South Africa and the African continent.

“The USA ranks among South Africa’s top trading partners with a diverse flow of goods, services and knowhow between the two States, serving as a critical launch pad for the development of both economies. My hope is that this may continue,” said Godongwana.

He said he was equally pleased by the US government’s announcement on Wednesday that its Treasury and South Africa’s National Treasury had agreed to form a United States–South Africa Task Force on Combating the Financing of Wildlife Trafficking.

“I believe that Ms Yellen and I [will] have fruitful discussions today on a number of issues, including anti-money laundering and counter-financing of terrorism, climate financing, sovereign debt resolution in Africa and other global issues that are going to be part of the G20 next month,” he said.

Yellen was equally optimistic, saying the United States “strongly values” its relationship with South Africa.

“The Minister and I will discuss how multilateral development banks can better address emerging global challenges, and how that can benefit African countries, and we will discuss South Africa’s role in developing the Pandemic Fund and its continued involvement.”

Yellen said she was also eager to hear the Minister’s views on the Common Framework for debt treatment, given South Africa’s membership in the G20 and its role as co-chair of Zambia’s creditor committee.

“And, of course, we will discuss South Africa’s economic outlook and energy sector reforms.

“As you know, South Africa is the first country with a Just Energy Transition Partnership, to which the United States was proud to commit as a partner,” she said.

The Secretary said the partnership represents South Africa’s bold first step toward expanding electricity access and reliability, and creating a low carbon and climate resilient economy, “a move that I believe will alleviate the deep fiscal strain the energy sector is putting on South Africa’s economy and support strong economic growth”.

“The partnership will also invest in the jobs of growing industries so that the transition is just and does not leave anyone behind.

“I have appreciated the Minister’s cooperation and insightful views in our talks so far, and I look forward to our discussion today,” she said.

Yellen’s visit to South Africa, which began on Monday and will end on Saturday, is part of her two-week tour of Africa.

Source: South African Government News Agency