Russia to export nuclear fuel to SA

Flanked by South African President Thabo Mbeki, he told journalists that a Russian company was planning to invest one billion US dollars in production of manganese in South Africa. Putin also said that Russian companies were interested in contributing to power generation capacity and were also interested in an aluminium smelter project.

Putin emphasised that he was not in the country simply for “political tourism” but to strengthen the business relationship between the two countries.

The Russian president, who met business leaders, including De Beers’ Nicky Oppenheimer, before leaving for Morocco said his country was also looking at the “possible supplies” of liquidified natural gas to South Africa.

Noting that trade relations with their traditional European partners ran into billions of US dollars each year, the prospects for raising SA/Russian Federation trade were high as they stood at only about 200 million US dollars a year.

Putin, who is accompanied by a large business delegation and with cabinet leaders from his country, said the Russian Federation was interested in the long-term projects connected with the extraction of metals and metal ores.

The visiting president did not refer to a particular location of the aluminium project but it was understood that he was referring to the planned project at Coega industrial development zone in the Eastern Cape.

Mbeki meanwhile said that an agreement signed connected to co-operation with space technology would see the countries launching “micro satellites” in December this year using Russian Federation rockets “so we are going to have things in outer space . . . which help us to catch up with the rest of the world”.

Noting that South Africa’s health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang had received training in Leningrad ‘ now St Petersburg ‘ Mbeki said that Russia would assist South Africa in areas of medical research and the training of medical personnel in that country.

Putin said that 10 to 15 years ago the Russian economy was “in transition to market principles” and it was not ready for fully-fledged co-operation with its economic partners. Speaking through a translator, he said: “Now the situation has changed dramatically,” he said, noting that in the first six months of this year the economy of his country had growth by some 7.4 percent and it had grown by about 7 percent for the last three or four years.

He said the gold and forex reserves of his central bank were growing “so fast” that he could hardly keep track of the figures himself. He knew that the reserves now totalled some 300 billion US dollars.

The Russian federation also enjoyed a twin surplus ‘ on its trade and budget accounts.

Putin noted that De Beers had been involved in the Russian Federation for some time and would continue to be involved with a Russian partner in projects in that country.

The two presidents signed a treaty on friendship and partnership. ‘ I-Net Bridge.

September 2006
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