Dirco forced to abandon some foreign missions due to budget cuts

The budget has been cut by R153 million, and will be reduced by R1,8 billion over the next three years.

Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane says there’s a direct link between the expansion of South Africa’s missions abroad and lucrative trade and investment links with Africa and Asia. Picture: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN - Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane says there's a direct link between the expansion of South Africa's missions abroad and lucrative trade and investment links with Africa and Asia.

Austerity measures agreed to by Cabinet mean the Dirco budget for this year has been cut by R153 million, and will be reduced by R1,8 billion over the next three years.

Nkoana-Mashabane's told Parliament her department now faces the difficult choice of having to close some of its foreign missions and lose momentum on some of the gains made.

She says the expansion and strengthening of South Africa's missions in Africa and Asia saw trade increase from tens of billions of rand to hundreds of billions of rands.

"We are targeting half a trillion trade with Africa by 2019. As at the end of 2015, 20 percent of our trade was conducted with the African continent."

The minister says the value of trade between South Africa, Asia and the Middle East has also soared.

"In 1994, trade with Asia and the Middle East combined was approximately R45 billion and has increased approximately to R760 billion for Asia and R116 billion with the Middle East."