Lord Mayor to hail ties with South Africa at Guildhall banquet

The Lord Mayor of the City of London will tonight highlight the strong partnership between the UK and South Africa at a banquet held at Guildhall in honour of the President of the Republic of South Africa.

Lord Mayor Nicholas Lyons will reflect on the historic ties between the two countries as well looking forward to opportunities to boost collaboration, particularly across financial and professional services.

Lord Mayor Nicholas Lyons will say (please check against delivery):

“Coming together tonight, it is hard not to think of a British woman and South African man who, individually, were two of the greatest leaders of the last century and, together, embodied the close friendship between our nations: the late Queen Elizabeth II, and former President of South Africa.

“During his historic 1996 state visit to the UK after the end of Apartheid, Mandela received the Freedom of the City of London from one of my predecessors, Sir John Chalstrey, here at Guildhall.

“Accepting the honour, Mandela spoke of his admiration for the City’s democratic institutions and diversity and reputation as a financial hub. However, he made clear that he had “come to Britain not as a petitioner with begging bowl in hand” but “as a partner, inviting investors to join hands with South Africa in building a long-term future” for his country and continent.

“I’m pleased to say Mandela’s vision came true. South Africa is one of the great tales of a country addressing appalling historic injustice with a spirit of reconciliation and a determination to create a better future for all.

“As an influential regional figure and player on the world stage, South Africa is an important ally for the UK. We have strong people-to-people and cultural links, a shared commitment to democracy, the rule of law and human rights and incredibly strong business and trade ties.

“South Africa is the UK’s most important African market accounting for 30% of our trade with the continent. A significant amount of South Africa’s foreign direct investment comes from the UK and financial services are the second biggest service export from the UK to South Africa.  Companies such as Investec, Standard Bank and SAB Miller are dual-listed on the Johannesburg and London Stock Exchange and Anglo-South African asset management company, Ninety One, has its headquarters a stone’s throw from here in Gresham Street.

“While our relationship has always been important, it’s perhaps even more critical now. Mr President, as you pursue your Operation Vulindlela initiative to modernise network industries like transport, water and electricity in a bid to unleash economic growth.

“From providing capital for infrastructure to sharing expertise in areas like insurance and green finance, the City of London will continue to work with you to make Operation Vulindlela a success.

“The next phase of the UK-South Africa Infrastructure Partnership announced by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak this week will offer increased access to UK companies on major infrastructure projects worth over £5.3 billion over the next three years and I hope to see more Square Mile firms getting involved.

“As Lord Mayor, I will be doing my bit to highlight further green investment opportunities in South Africa.”

Notes to editors

About the City of London Corporation

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