South African International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane has left for Baku for a two-day working visit to Azerbaijan to strengthen bilateral relations.

The Minister, who left here Monday, will attend the first Session of Regular Diplomatic Consultations at Ministerial level, agreed to under a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed with that country in February 2014, in Pretoria.

The visit will also be an opportunity to promote South Africa as a trade and investment destination to Azerbaijan and to the Caspian Sea region at large.

During her visit, the Minister will pay a courtesy call on Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev, meet Shahin Mustafayev, the Minister of Economy of Azerbaijan, and hold discussions with her Azerbaijan counterpart, Foreign Affairs Minister Elmar Mmamadyarov.

She will also visit various institutions to promote inter-institutional and people-to-people co-operation. Azerbaijan is considered to be one of the most important countries in the world in oil exploration and development.

The expansion of the oil and gas sector has enabled Azerbaijan to record rapid growth in recent years. Other important sectors are transportation, agriculture, construction, services and manufacturing.

Trade between South Africa and Azerbaijan has potential for growth. In 2015, South African exports to Azerbaijan were at approximately 217 million Rand (about 15.5 million US dollars) and imports at approximately 4.0 million Rand.

Other significant partnerships between South Africa and Azerbaijan will include the signing of an MoU between the Diplomatic Academy of the Department of International Relations and Co-operation of South Africa and ADA University of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan.


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