Germany’s Merkel arriving in South Africa to talk trade

International News

German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives for the weekly cabinet meeting of the German government at the chancellery in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer)

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JOHANNESBURG (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to arrive in South Africa on Wednesday to discuss trade, investment and energy issues with Berlin’s largest trading partner in Africa.

Merkel and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa also are expected to discuss cooperation on the United Nations Security Council, where both countries are serving two-year terms as non-permanent members.

Germany and South Africa “are committed to advocating for world peace and security, strengthening and reform of multilateral institutions and responding to climate change,” Ramaphosa’s office said.

South Africa shortly will take over the chairmanship of the African Union continental body, a chance to provide leadership on geopolitical issues during the one-year term. Ramaphosa has said pressing issues include the conflict in Libya, which is a key interest of Berlin as well.

Germany will assume the presidency of the European Union in the second half of 2020 at a time when the EU is dealing with Britain’s recent exit, migration and other issues.

South Africa says it is Germany’s largest trading partner in Africa. Germany is South Africa’s second-largest trading partner, well behind China.

According to South Africa’s government, nearly 600 German companies are based in the country, with trade between the two countries reaching over $17 billion last year and South African exports to Germany exceeding $6 billion for the first time.

Merkel and Ramaphosa will chair a German business roundtable in the capital, Pretoria, on Thursday. South Africa is eager to find solutions to its severe unemployment problem, with more than 29% people without work.

Meanwhile a number of South Africa’s state-owned companies are struggling, along with Africa’s most developed economy at large, as investors are wary after years of mismanagement and corruption.

Following her visit to South Africa, Merkel will visit Angola late this week. The oil-rich but largely impoverished southern African nation is investigating the billionaire daughter of former President Jose Eduardo dos Santos for allegedly embezzling millions of dollars from state oil company Sonangol and laundering it through foreign banks.

Isabel dos Santos, reputedly Africa’s richest woman, has disputed the allegations in the growing scandal over her business dealings but has been shedding some of her investments.

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