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Hollande assures Zuma Brexit will not affect EU relations with S. Africa


French president Francois Hollande has assured his counterpart from South Africa, Jacob Zuma that the decision by British voters to leave the European Union will not affect economic relations between his country and the bloc.

A report released by ratings agency Moody’s said South Africa was the most exposed in Africa to market volatility and a potential shift in investors’ risk perceptions following Brexit.

“I was perfectly clear. The Brexit will have no impact on the relations between the European Union and South Africa. On the contrary, we are going to strengthen our commercial relations, in order for South Africa to be a key partner for Europe, including within regional organisations such as the SADC (South African Development Company),” Hollande said.

The report noted South Africa is likely to avoid a recession in 2016, but a possible rise in global risk aversion linked to Britain’s decision to leave the European Union could impede its economic recovery, ratings agency Moody’s said on Friday.

Zuma is scheduled to visit Longueval on Tuesday, where he will be attending the centenary commemoration of the Battle of Delville Wood of World War 1, where South African soldiers were killed.

“We will use the occasion to correct one of the key injustices of the past in our country. The South African Delville Wood Memorial has been transformed in order to ensure that the historical role played by Black South Africans in the First and Second World Wars is accorded the necessary recognition as that given to White South Africans,” Zuma said.

“France will never forget the courage and sacrifice of these South African soldiers. This is why it was very important that, for the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Delville Wood, there could be a Memorial to mark this story, this sacrifice and the link between South Africa and France,” Hollande said.

Zuma said he hopes for expansion of trade between South Africa and France, which reached 33.6 billion rand ($2.33 billion USD) in 2015.

French foreign direct investment in South Africa is 24 billion rand ($1.6 billion USD).

Zuma said the volume of South African exports to France could also increase.

The two countries are forging a “strategic partnership,” Zuma said, covering energy, science, maritime security, education, health, arts and culture.

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