South African international relations minister Naledi Pandor called Russia 'a valued partner', following talks with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov
Naledi Pandor with Russia's foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov AFP

South Africa's Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Naledi Pandor, lauded the overall growth in trade with Austria, while welcoming her Austrian counterpart, Alexander Schallenberg, in Pretoria on Thursday.

Pandor, while speaking at a joint media briefing with Schallenberg, praised the contribution of Austrian companies in job creation, skill development and technology transfer, apart from an increase in tourists from the landlocked country in central Europe.

"During our deliberations today, we discussed the status of our bilateral cooperation as well as regional developments on the continent, current international developments and our robust cooperation in the multilateral arena," SA News reported, citing Pandor.

"South Africa appreciates Austria's global standing, reputation, and advanced technological capability in the renewable energy space, which makes Austria a natural partner for South Africa," she added.

Schallenberg, on the other hand, took to X (formerly known as Twitter) to share a series of photos from the meeting and wrote, "Glad to meet my colleague and friend Dr. Naledi Pandor @DIRCO_ZA in Pretoria today."

"We agreed: The principles of international law must apply globally and at all times. Selectivity or double standards would be a detriment to the rules-based order 🇦🇹 advocates for so strongly," he added.

In addition, Schallenberg and Sport, Arts and Culture Minister, Zizi Kodwa, signed a Memorandum of Understanding on arts and culture during the opening of the Austrian Cultural Forum in Pretoria on Thursday night.

South Africa and Austria collaborate in various sectors, including renewable energy, wastewater treatment, recycling and organic agriculture, innovation, digitalization and environmental technologies.

In 2018, Austria exported mainly machinery and equipment, vehicles and construction materials worth €588.14 million to South Africa. Whereas, South Africa exported €348.20 million worth of products, including iron ore and cellulose, alongside vehicles and semi-finished products to Austria, as per Austrian Embassy in Pretoria.

Austria's one-third trade is handled by South Africa, which makes the country the biggest trading partner on the African continent as of 2018.