Many South Africans are accustomed to the Mozambican hospitality. It is a hospitality that always reminds us of our past, a past that should never be forgotten. We speak of a past when hundreds of South Africans, escaping the cruel apartheid system, descended onto the shores of this great nation. These South Africans were warmly embraced with solidarity by the Mozambican people. This is a country that played a critical role in the fight against apartheid. We talk of Mozambique, a country that lost a leader and a President to that regime. The only sin of President Samora Machel was that he took a principled stand against the unjust system of apartheid.
This history needs to be told and retold to the current and future generations. This is a history that tells a story that we are indeed one. We share the same history, culture, and ancestry. We speak the same languages and, most curiously, we share the same dreams, those of socioeconomic prosperity for all of us. That political and historical bond must now translate into improved economic cooperation.
Our partnership over the years has yielded satisfactory results as evidenced by the existence of 60 bilateral agreements and memoranda of understanding. These legal instruments cover a wide range of sectors, including transport, trade, investment, energy, security, and the environment, as well as tourism, science and technology, water, immigration, communications, sports, arts and culture, and agriculture and mining.
There is still a need to provide momentum to further strengthen our economic relations by enhancing cooperation among our respective government departments and institutions. This would inevitably result in increased trade and investment between our two countries and importantly also further promote intra-African trade.
We also encourage more robust interaction between our respective business sectors. We are of the strong opinion that their interaction will further strengthen our economic ties and bring us closer to the achievement of our aspirations of growing our respective economies for the mutual benefit of all.
We are particularly encouraged that to date there are over 300 South African companies doing business in Mozambique, resulting in the steady growth in trade and investment between our countries. We believe that these companies have in no small measure contributed to the growth and development of the Mozambican economy.
For a decade now, Mozambique has been one of our top trading partners on the continent. This demonstrates the interdependency of our countries. Our bilateral partnership was enhanced in 2011, when we signed an agreement establishing a Bi-national Commission between our two countries. This means that every year the heads of state will meet to discuss strategic issues of bilateral importance.
There is no doubt that this will create the required momentum for the implementation of all the signed agreements and memoranda of understanding. Mozambique and South Africa share common values of democracy, respect for human rights, and social justice. We should continue to build on our historical relationship to pursue these values. These shared values provide a firm foundation for cooperation beyond bilateral relations. We pursue these values not only within the broader SADC family but also at a continental level.
Our collaboration is epitomized by our work together within the SADC in pursuit of regional integration, peace, security, and stability. We need to double our efforts for regional economic integration. As a region, we have demonstrated a collective resolve to do that pursuant to the adoption on April 29, 2015 of the SADC Industrialization Strategy as well as the Revised Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan.
The full implementation of these noble and visionary strategies and plans cannot be overemphasized. We need to decentralize industrialization through the identification of cross-border projects. The involvement of the private sector is inevitable and as governments we need to encourage their involvement and participation.
I also remain encouraged by our common partnership as reflected in our shared vision for the promotion of multilateralism, continental integration, South-South cooperation, and the reform of the UN and its institutions. We are committed to working hard each day to ensure that current and future generations benefit from the historical bonds of our two nations.