Wed | Sep 19, 2018

Brexit won't affect EU-South Africa trade, says French president

Published:Tuesday | July 12, 2016 | 12:00 AM
France’s President François Hollande (left), shakes hands with South African President Jacob Zuma during a state visit at the Elysée Palace, Paris, yesterday.


French President Francois Hollande yesterday assured his visiting South African counterpart Jacob Zuma that the British vote to leave the European Union won't affect economic relations between the EU and his country.

Speaking at the Elysee with Zuma by his side, Hollande said that a British exit from the EU, or Brexit, "will have no impact" on the relations between the bloc and South Africa, a former British colony.

Hollande said that "on the contrary, we are going to strengthen our commercial relations in order for South Africa to be a key partner for the EU."

Zuma, on a state visit to France, said that while Brexit holds implications "well beyond the borders" of the UK and the rest of the EU, he and Hollande have committed to "strengthening cooperation on regional and global peace and security as well as global governance issues."

Today, Zuma is to travel to the Somme region in northern France and attend a centennial commemoration of the World War I battle of Delville Wood, sometimes renamed the "Devil Wood." In July 1916, hundreds of South African soldiers were killed there in less than a week, according to the official website of the memorial of "Bois Delville," the wood near the town of Longueval where the fierce battle took place.

Hollande said France "will never forget the courage and sacrifice" of the South African soldiers during WWI.