Austria (Republic of)

History of Relations | Diplomatic Representation | Travel Info | Health Requirements | Climate Info | Currency Info | Trade Info | Visits and Meetings| Agreements | Interest Groups/ Organisations | Country Profile

History of Relations

Since 1994 South Africa and Austria have enjoyed cordial relations. Several high-level visits have taken place since then. In addition to engaging the Austrian Government at national level in support of development programmes and increased economic involvement, provincial partnerships with key Austrian provinces have also resulted in support for development needs for South Africa.

Bilateral trade between the two countries has increased steadily.

Diplomatic Representation

South African Representation in Austria

H E Mr T J Seokolo
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary

South African Embassy

Austrian Representation in South Africa

H E Ms B Öppinger–Walchshofer
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary

Embassy of Austria

Travel Info

Visa Requirements for South Africans

For more information contact the Embassy of Austria in Pretoria or visit the web site of the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Health Requirements

Proof of a medical insurance must be produced prior to departure from South Africa.

For further information go to Travelers' Health.


Climate Info

The climate varies sharply (from + 35ºC in summer to - 20ºC in winter), owing to great differences in elevation. The main annual temperature is between 7C and 9C.

For up-to-date weather information click here.


Currency Info

The monetary unit is the Euro, abbreviated to EUR. The currency is freely convertible.

For current exchange rates click here.

State and Official Visits / Bilateral Meetings

Date

High level visits between SA and Austria since 1994

 

 

February 1995The former Austrian Minister of Public Enterprises, Dr Klima, visited South Africa during.

 

 

September 1995 Former Deputy President Mbeki paid a highly successful visit to Austria in, at the invitation of Chancellor Vranitzky.

 

 

September 1996 The Speaker of Parliament, Dr Frene Ginwala, and a delegation comprising of senior management officials from parliament visited Vienna on a fact-finding tour.

 

 

November 1996 The then Austrian Foreign Minister, Dr Wolfgang Schüssel, paid a working visit to South Africa. He was accompanied by the Minister for Economic Affairs, Dr Farnleitner, and a high-level business delegation.

 

 

October 1997 Former Deputy President Mbeki again visited Austria on at the invitation of the Chancellor. During this visit, he met with the President, Chancellor and Foreign Minister.

 

 

January 1998 Minister Erwin accepted an invitation by the Austrian Minister for Economic Affairs, Dr. Johannes Farnleitner to visit Austria in (A NEDLAC delegation visited Austria at the same time).

 

 

February 1998 The Austrian State Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Mrs. B Ferrero-Waldner, visited South Africa at the invitation of Deputy Minister A Pahad for discussions on EU/SADC cooperation.

 

 

March 1998 Minister Fraser-Moleketi visited Vienna at the invitation of the Austrian Minister for Women's Affairs, Mrs. Prammer

 

 

June 1998

Former President Mandela and Former Chancellor Klima met in Cardiff in during the EU Summit for general discussions on Austria's EU Presidency and South Africa's position as Chair of the SADC.

 

 

June 1998 Premier Stofile of the Eastern Cape visited Lower Austria in to formalise cooperation between the two provinces.

 

 

June 1998 Archbishop Tutu attended the 50th anniversary of the UN's Universal Declaration on Human Rights in Vienna.

 

 

October 1998 The Speaker of Parliament, Dr Frene Ginwala, attended the SADC/EU Parliamentarian Conference in Vienna.

 

 

November 1998 The late Minister Nzo, in his capacity as Chair of the Council of Ministers of SADC, visited Vienna.

 

 

November 1998

DG of the Department of Labour, met with key Austrian labour market institutions in Vienna. The purpose of the discussions was to propose and initiate cooperation with Austria in the development of human resources in the SA labour market.

 

 

February 1999 The former Austrian Chancellor, Dr Viktor Klima, the Minister of Finance, Mr. Rudolf Edlinger and a high-level business delegation visited South Africa Various matters of interest to both countries were discussed.

 

 

March 1999 In his capacity as President of the Inkhata Freedom Party, Minister Mangosutho Buthelezi paid a visit to Vienna. He was invited to attend the Conference of the European People's Party (EPP) which was held in Vienna.

 

 

June 2001

Official visit by Gen. Nyanda to Austria in on invitation by Austrian Defence Force.

 

 

2001 (The late) Minister Dullah-Omar visited Austria in to attend an International Railway Congress.

 

 

2002 The Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ferrero-Waldner and Minister of Agriculture, Molterer attended the WSSD Johannesburg.

 

 

April 2003 Minister Skweyiya paid a visit to Austria to attend a Ministerial UN Meeting (CND).

 

 

May 2003 The Austrian Minister of Interior, Mr. Strasser visited to South Africa in to sign a Bilateral Police Cooperation Agreement.

 

 

May 2003

Visit of the National Council of Provinces: KzaZulu/Natal Standing Committee to Austria.

 

 

June 2003

Visit of the National Council of Provinces, led by Mrs. Paledi Pandor to Austria on invitation of the Austrian Federal Council of Parliament.

 

 

August 2003 Visit of Erwin Proell, Governor of Lower Austria and his delegation to Eastern Cape.

 

 

October 2003

Visit of Mr. Nelson Mandela on invitation by Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs.

 

 

November 2003

Ms. Susan Shabangu, Dep. Minister of Minerals and Energy, and Ms. Myakayaka-Manzini, Deputy President of the ANC Women's League visited Austria to attend the "Women without Borders" Conference.

 

 

June 2004 Visit of Ms Tshabalala-Msimang, Minister for Health, to attend World Conference on Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion in Austria.

 

 

September 2004

The Judge President of the High Court of KwaZulu/Natal, Mr. WEM Tshabalala, visited Austria.

 

 

October 2004

The Deputy Minister for Science and Technology, Mr D Hanekom paid an official visit to Austria.

 

 

February 2005 The Director-General for Public Enterprises and a high-level delegation from his Department visited Austria.

 

 

October 2005

Chief Justice Mr Pius Langa visited Vienna.

   
July 2006 Visit of Premier Ebrahim Rasool and delegation to Linz to attend Regional Leaders Summit hosted by Governor of Upper Austria.
   
September 2006 Visit of Ms Buyelwa Patience Sonjica, then Minister of Minerals & Energy to attend the IAEA General Conference.
   
2007 Visit by former Eastern Cape Premier Nosimo Balindlela and delegation to lower Austria to further strengthen ties between the two provinces.
   
June 2008 Visit by Dr M Stofile, Minister of Sport and Recreation, Mr Jabu Moleketi, Deputy Minister of Finance, Mr Danny Jordaan, LOC SA, and Dr Irvin Khoza, LOC SA to attend the Media Function in Vienna for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa during the EURO 2008.
   
March 2009 Visit to South Africa by Ms Brigitte Jank, President of Vienna Economic Chamber with a delegation.
   
May / June 2009 Visit to South Africa by Ms Renate Brauner, Vice Mayor of the City of Vienna.
   
March 2010 Visit by Minister of Higher Education and Training, Mr B Nzimande to Austria to attend Bologna Policy Forum.
   
July 2010 Visit by Deputy President Motlanthe to Vienna to attend XVIII Aids Congress.
   
September 2010 Visit by Minister of Energy, Ms Dipuo Peters to attend “Africa-EU High Level Ministerial Conference on Energy Partnership”.
   
January 2011 Go SA Forum, participation by: Barbara Thompson, DepMin of Energy, Premier Kieviet (Eastern Cape) and delegation, Western Cape delegation (MEC’s), and delegations from Provincial Investment Agencies, Municipalities and Business.
   
September 2011 Visit by Premier Zille, Western Cape to Upper Austria.
   
December 2011 Climate Change Conference, Durban, Minister of Environment, Nikolaus Berlakovich and delegation.
   
June 2013 Visit by Minister Nkoana-Mashabane to attend meetings at the UN.
   
September 2013 Visit by Minister Martins to attend the IAEA General Conference.
   
September 2014 Visit by Minister Joemat-Petersson to attend the IAEA General Conference.
   
February 2015 Visit by Deputy Minister Bogopane-Zulu to attend the Zero Project Disability Conference 2015.
   
March 2015 Visit by the second President of the Austrian National Council (Parliament lower chamber), Mr K Kopf (OVP) to South Africa.
   
June 2015 Visit by Minister Pandor to attend the CTBT Science and Technology 2015 Conference.
   


Bilateral Agreements

If you have any queries with regard to treaties please contact the Treaty Section at 012 351 0892/0742 or send an e-mail to: vanderwaltr@dirco.gov.za

Trade Statistics

For current information on trade statistics between South Africa and Austria, visit the web site of the Department of Trade and Industry of South Africa

Interest Groups and Information

Trade Commission
Austrian Trade Commission
Tel : (011) 442 7100


COUNTRY PROFILE: THE REPUBLIC OF AUSTRIA

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. STATISTICAL PROFILE
1.1 General
1.2 Government
1.3 Economic indicators
1.4 Social indicators
1.5 Political indicators

2. GENERAL BACKGROUND

3. POLITICAL STRUCTURE
3.1 National legislature
3.2 Electoral system
3.2.1 National elections
3.3 Head of state
3.4 National government
3.5 State legislatures
3.6 Main political parties
3.6.1 Social Democratic Party (SPÖ)
3.6.2 Austrian People's Party (ÖVP)
3.6.3 Alliance for Austria's Future (BZÖ)
3.6.4 Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ)
3.6.5 Team Stronach (TS)
3.6.6 The Greens (Die Grünen)
3.6.7 NEOS (The new Austria and Liberal Forum)
3.7 Domestic politics
3.7.1 Overview
3.7.2 Austria in the EU
3.8 Immigration and border control

4. THE AUSTRIAN ECONOMY
4.1 Economic Policy
4.2 Main Economic Activity
4.3 Economic Outlook

5. FOREIGN POLICY AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
5.1 European Union
5.2 European Council
5.3 Central and Eastern European relations
5.3.1 EU - Eastern enlargement - Austrian position
5.4 NATO
5.5 WEU
5.6 OSCE
5.7 Peacekeeping
5.8 EU/SADC relations
5.9 Development Cooperation
5.10 Multilateral/UN

6. RELATIONS WITH SOUTH AFRICA
6.1 Political Relations
6.2 High-level bilateral visits
6.3 Economic Relations
6.3.1 Bilateral trade between South Africa and Austria
6.3.2 Bilateral investments between South Africa and Austria
6.3.2.1 South African investments in Austria
6.3.2.2 Austrian investments in South Africa
6.4 Tourism
6.5 South African-Austrian Development Cooperation
6.6 Provincial cooperation

ANNEX A: THE AUSTRIAN CABINET

ANNEX B: BILATERAL AGREEMENTS

COUNTRY PROFILE: THE REPUBLIC OF AUSTRIA

1. STATISTICAL PROFILE

1.1 General

Capital: Vienna
Official language: German
Land area: 83 859 sq km
Population: 8.5 million (2014)
Time: CET + 1 hour in winter

1.2. Government

Head of State: Federal President Dr. Heinz Fischer
President (Speaker) of the National Council Ms Doris Bures
Head of Government: Federal Chancellor Mr Werner Faymann
Vice-Chancellor: Dr Reinhold Mitterlehner
Foreign Minister: Mr Sebastian Kurz

1.3 Economic Indicators

National Currency: Euro (€)
Exchange rate/Rand: €1 = R 13,772 (May 2015)
  
Inflation rate: 1.0% (May 2015)
  
GDP: € 328.89 billion (2014)
  
GDP per capita: € 38.520 (2014)
  
Unemployment: 5,6 % (2014)
  
SA exports to Austria: Euro 522,1 million (2013)
  Euro 427,6 million (2014)
  
SA imports from Austria: Euro 506,3 million (2013)
  Euro 476,8 million (2014)
  
Major imports from South Africa: Iron ore, pulp and waste paper, minerals, fruit and vegetables, other crude mineral oils, pig iron, ferro-alloys, trucks, gold non-monetary, ores and concentrates of base metals, silver and platinum
  
Major imports from Austria: Electrical machinery and equipment, paper and paper board, chemicals, internal combustion engines and parts thereof, motor vehicles, civil engineering and contractor’s plant equipment, rails and building materials, medicaments (including veterinary medicaments), manufactures of metals and non-metallic mineral manufactures

1.4 Social indicators

Inhabitants per square kilometer: 101 (2012)
  
Life expectancy:
78.3 years male
 83.3 years female
  
Fertility rate: 1.44 %
  
Religion:
67.4% Roman Catholic
  3.7% Protestant


1.5 Political Indicators

Political system: Multi-party federal democracy
  
Official name: Republic of Austria
  
Form of government: Federal Republic
  
Political-economic orientation: Social market economy
  
Military affiliation: Neutral
  
Ruling party: SPÖ/ÖVP coalition (Social Democrats and Christian Democrats


2. GENERAL BACKGROUND

After World War I, the Habsburg Empire lost 87 % of its territory and 88 % of its population. The Republic of Austria was proclaimed in 1918. Following annexation by Nazi Germany in 1938 and subsequent occupation by the  Allied forces after World War II, Austria's 1955 State Treaty declared the country "permanently neutral" as a condition of Soviet withdrawal. Neutrality, once such an ingrained part of Austrian cultural identity, has been called into question since the Soviet collapse and Austria becoming a member of the EU in 1995 after a referendum with a 66 % yes vote by 82 % of those eligible to vote.

The country lies in Central Europe, bordered by Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west, by the Federal Republic of Germany to the north, the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the north and north-east respectively, by Hungary to the east and by Italy and Slovenia to the south. The climate varies sharply (from + 38ºC in summer to - 15ºC in winter), owing to great differences in elevation. Austria has 47% of its total area accounted for by forests.

The capital is Vienna (Wien) with1.7 million inhabitants, it is considered as one of the nine provinces. The provinces are Vienna, Tyrol (Tirol – 706 837 inhabitants), Lower Austria (Niederösterreich – 1 607 976), Upper Austria (Oberösterreich – 1 411 238), Burgenland (283 965), Salzburg (529 861), Styria (Steiermark – 1 208 372), Vorarlberg (368 868) and Carinthia (Kärnten – 559 315).

3. POLITICAL STRUCTURE

3.1 National Legislature: Bi-cameral Federal Parliament

Austria is a parliamentary democracy, constituted in the form of a federal state, with nine provinces. The legislative bodies are the two houses of parliament, the Lower House or National Assembly Nationalrat), and the Upper House or Federal Assembly (Bundesrat). The National Council is elected for a four-year term through a system of proportional representation. The members of the Bundesrat are chosen by the nine provincial parliaments. The number of delegates chosen by each province is proportional to the size of its population.

3.2 Electoral System

Universal adult suffrage over the age of 16.  Under a law introduced in February 1990, Austrians of voting age have the right to vote while they are temporarily resident in another country.

3.2.1 National elections

Last election: 29 September 2013

Party

Percentage of votes

Seats in NA

loss or gain of seats

 

 

 

 

SPÖ

26.8 %

52

-5

ÖVP

24 %

47

-4

FPÖ

20.5 %

40

+6

Greens

12.4 %

24

+4

Stronach

5.7 %

11

+6

NEOs

5 %

9

-

BZÖ

3.5 %

-

-

Other

2 %

-

-

3.3 Head of State

The Austrian Federal President is the ceremonial head of state. The President is elected for a six-year term. The President is elected directly. Among his duties are the signing of treaties, the swearing in of the government members and provincial governors and the verification of laws passed by Parliament. He is also Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. The President has the power to dismiss the government and dissolve parliament, although these powers have not been used since World War II.

The current President, Dr Heinz Fischer was elected on 25 April 2004 for his first term and re-elected for his second term on 25 April 2010. His term will end in April 2016.

3.4 National Government

The Cabinet (Ministerrat) is headed by the Federal Chancellor (Bundeskanzler), who is appointed by the President. The current Austrian Chancellor is Mr Werner Faymann (SPÖ). The Austrian Government consists of a coalition between the Social Democrats (SPÖ) and the People's Party (ÖVP).

3.5 State Legislatures

Each province is administered by its own government, headed by a governor elected by the provincial parliament. Each province also has the right to protest to the constitutional court if it believes that any federal legislation encroaches on its authority. Each of the provinces has its own constitution. The provinces have autonomy in affairs such as nature conservation, building and hunting regulations, certain aspects of education, land ownership, tourism, etc.

3.6 Main Political Parties

3.6.1 Social Democratic Party of Austria (Sozialdemokratische Partei Österreichs - SPÖ)

This party was founded as the Austrian Socialist Party in 1889. The SPÖ advocates democratic socialism and Austria's permanent neutrality. It draws the majority of its support from the trade union movement and has a membership of 700 000. With the exception of the years 1966-70 and 1999-2003, the SPÖ always held government responsibility since 1945. From 1970 to 1999 the party, without interruption, provided the Chancellor (from 1970 to 1983 in one-party governments). In the 2013 elections the Party received only 26.8 % of the vote (2.5 % less than in 2008). The party has now 52 seats in the National Assembly.

Leader: Werner Faymann (current Chancellor)

3.6.2 The Austrian People's Party (Österreichische Volkspartei - ÖVP)

The ÖVP was founded in 1945. It is a Christian Democratic Party of the progressive centre, as defined in the "Salzburg Programme" (1972). It perceives itself as a party, which unites all middle-class and conservative groups (Roman-Catholic). The ÖVP is closely linked with the federations of business, farmers, blue- and white-collar workers, and its political predominance in the Chambers of Economy and Chambers of Agriculture ensures a strong backing. The People's Party together with the BZÖ is currently in government for the second time. In the 2013 elections the Party received only 24 % of the vote (2 % less than in 2008). The party has now 47 seats in the National Assembly.

Chairman: Dr Reinhold Mitterlehner (current Vice-Chancellor and Minister of Science, Research and Economy)

3.6.3 Alliance for Austria's Future (Bündnis Zukunft Österreich - BZÖ)

In early 2005 it became clear that the traditional Freedom Party (Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs, FPÖ, see below) was becoming untenable as a junior partner in Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel's centre-right government. The FPÖ had suffered a series of devastating defeats in regional elections and became notorious for pro-Nazi utterances by several of its officials.

As a consequence - and in order to get rid of their nationalist right wing - former FPÖ Chairman and at that time Governor of Carinthia, Joerg Haider, and other prominent FPÖ members founded a new party, the "Bündnis Zukunft Österreich" (BZÖ, Alliance for Austria's Future). This step meant a split in the already small FPÖ into the "old" FPÖ and the BZÖ. While the BZÖ emphasizes a social component in politics and economics, the FPÖ continues its populist and nationalist course. Jörg Haider, the party’s leader, passed away in a car crash in November 2008. The BZÖ gained 11 % in the 2008 elections but with the September 2013 national elections, the party only gained 3.5 % and therefore is no longer represented in the National Assembly due to the 4 % threshold.

Leader: Mrs Johanna Trodt-Limpl (30 March 2015)

3.6.4 Freedom Party of Austria (Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs - FPÖ)

This party was founded in 1955. It was originally a liberal party, which partially succeeded the League of Independents (VdU), which dissolved in 1956. The FPÖ stands for moderate social reform and the participation of workers in management, stressing personal freedom and anti-collectivism. Since 1986 the party's basic policy has shifted. It now stands for stricter immigration controls and tightening up of law and order. Support for the party has risen dramatically in Austrian politics in the 1990’s, dropped from 26.9 % to 10% in the November 2002 elections and gained again 18 % in the 2008 elections. In the 2013 elections the FPÖ increased its vote with 3.9 % to 20.5 % and has now 40 seats in the National Assembly.

Leader: Heinz-Christian Strache

3.6.5 Team Stronach (TS)

This party was founded by and named after the Austrian-Canadian billionaire Frank Stronach in September 2012. Team Stronach gained eligibility to apply for parliamentary status in October 2012 after five parliamentary delegates crossed over to the new party. Since parties with at least three seats are automatically qualified to run in the general elections. Team Stronach supports Austria leaving the Euro and returning to the Schilling. However, the Party is not anti-immigration, unlike other anti-euro parties. The party advocates for the cutting of bureaucracy and instituting a 25% flat tax on incomes. It supports ending conscription and introducing an all-volunteer army. Stronach further supports democratic reform, including primary elections. At the September 2013 elections, Team Stronach received 5.7% of the vote with 11 seats in the National Assembly.

Leader: Frank Stronach (Mr Stronach resigned from the National Council in January 2014)

3.6.6 The Greens - The Green Alternative (Die Grünen - Die Grüne Alternative)

Founded in 1986, this party campaigns for environmental protection, peace and social justice. The entry of the Greens into Austrian parliament in 1986 was an unprecedented event in the sense that, for the first time, a party, which did not belong to any of the traditional ideological camps, scored a relative success with 4.9% of the votes. In the 2002 elections the Greens could already gain 8.96% of the votes. Since founding of the party, the Greens were an opposition party. In the 2013 elections the party received 12.4 % of the votes, (an increase of 1.1 % on the previous election) with 24 seats in the National Assembly.

Leader: Dr. Eva Glawischnig

3.6.7 NEOS (The new Austria and Liberal Forum)

The Party was founded in October 2012 with former members of the OVP, the Liberal Forum, the Young Liberals and the “Grüne Wirtschaft”. They received 5% of the vote and have now 9 members in the National Assembly.  In a survey done a day after the elections, almost 50% of the voters that voted for the NEOS, voted out of protest.  Around 29% of those voted for the NEOS said they were hoping for changes.  The NEOS wants to stabilizing pensions and education as well as transparency.

Leader: Matthias Strolz

3.7 Domestic Politics

3.7.1 Overview

The current Austrian government is a coalition government of the SPÖ and the ÖVP.

The priorities of the SPÖ and the ÖVP coalition include (amongst others):

  • creation of work for all in a future-orientated business-enabling environment,
  • the promotion of science, research and technology development towards this goal,
  • strengthening the various dimensions of the welfare society while at the same time working towards saving tax money,
  • work towards increasing sustainability,
  • homeland security,
  • tolerance in society,
  • increasing personal freedom of the individual,
  • improve ownership of the community,
  • strengthening of public confidence in democratic institutions

On 21 January 2013, Austrians voted by a large margin to retain their conscription system. In the first referendum in Austria since WWII, 60% voted in favour of the current mandatory military service, while 40% voted for a professional military.  The petition also marked the end of an almost two-year feud between the coalition partners, Social Democrats (SPO) and conservative People's Party (OVP) on the issue of military conscription.

3.7.2 Austria in the EU

The current Government has been working towards a closer Europe in the debt crisis, and has on many occasions warned of the far-reaching implications it would have on the lives of Austrians and Europeans if the Euro-zone is allowed to disintegrate.

Parties to the far right of the political spectrum, especially the Freedom Party (FPÖ), have openly criticised Austria’s Government for “continuing to pay the debts of foreign countries” with state resources.  The FPÖ has propagated a national referendum on whether Austria should leave the Euro. The European Parliamentary elections held in May 2014 did not bring any surprises because the OVP again received the most of the votes (27%), the SPO (24.1%) and the FPO (19.7%).  Only 45% of the Austrian voters did participate in the election.

The new EU Commission President, Mr Jean-Claude Juncker announced on 10 September 2014 that the Austrian EU Commissioner, Mr Johannes Hahn will be in charge of European Neighbourhood Policy and future Expansion of the EU.

3.8 Immigration and Border Control

As of 2011, Statistics Austria’s official estimates have shown that 81% or 6.75 million residents had no migration background and more than 19% or 1.6 million inhabitants at least had one or more parents of migration background. There are more than 415 000 descendants of foreign born immigrants residing in Austria, the great majority of who have been naturalised.

Between 350,000 and 400,000 Turks (including a minority of Turkish Kurds) comprise approximately 4% of the total population, and make up today the biggest single ethnic minority in Austria.  Bosnians, Croatians, Serbians and Slovenians are making around 7% of total Austrian population. The Foreign Minister, Mr Kurz (since 2013) was previously the Deputy Minister for Interior where he was responsible for integration. When he was appointed as Foreign Minister, he brought the integration portfolio with him to the Foreign Ministry, which clearly states the importance the Austrian government places on integration as part of its foreign policy.


4. THE AUSTRIAN ECONOMY

4.1 Economic Policy

The Austrian economic model is described as an exemplary functioning social market economy, in which free market economics are blended with solidarity and social compromise. This combination forms the sustainable and reliable basis of Austria’s internationally revered social peace.

One of the main reasons for this social (labour) peace lies in the specifics of the Austrian social partnership, an aggregation of efforts by the representatives of the employer associations (Austrian Economic Chamber and Austrian Agricultural Chambers) and the employee associations (Chamber of Labour and the Union Organisation). There is no formal legal basis; the social partnership is a traditional relationship built on trust and common understanding and goals.

Austria’s main advantages lie in its economic and political stability, social and labour peace, reliable national security and rule of law as well as a far-reaching integration in the world economy (membership in the EU and the Eurozone, gateway to the new EU members and to their neighbours to the east and south). Additional benefits are well-developed cultural attributes (sports, music, architecture, nature, etc.), a dependable legal system, a low crime rate and the specially valued high quality of life and standard of living.

Austria can look back at an extraordinary 60-year success story. Beginning as a laggard from a comparably dismal economic position, the Austrian population harnessed their valuable human capital and cleverly combined it with technological progress for first-rate productivity advances within a stable socio-political environment to emerge as one of the world’s top highly-developed, modern market economies of today.

4.2 Main Economic Activity

An analysis of the gross domestic product reveals that the tertiary sector is a major contributor followed by the secondary and primary sectors.

The service sector is dominated by wholesale and retail trade, administration of estates and tourism. Austria has a well-developed wholesale trade and a widely diversified and efficient retail trade.

In terms of production, Austria is a highly developed industrial country. After the Second World War, Austria succeeded in developing a capital and labour-intensive finished goods sector in addition to the basic industries and the manufacture of semi-finished products. Today the finished goods sector accounts for three quarters of Austria's exports.

Austria has a highly developed iron, steel and special steel industry. The aforementioned has enabled Austria to create a wide-ranging mechanical engineering and plant construction industry which enjoys an international reputation. Austria also has a highly developed electronics industry, chemical industry, paper and pulp industry and textile and clothing industry.

The majority of companies are SMEs (under 500 employees) with only about 150 firms which employ more than 1 000 people.

The Austrian economy continues to impress with very good economic performance, while maintaining a high degree of social cohesion. This strength rests on three pillars:

  • A successful export-oriented economy with entrepreneurs, who understood how to reap the benefits from past decades of European integration for workers, asset holders and the treasury alike. (In 2014, the total Austrian exports amounted to Euro 127.9 billion and total imports Euro 129.7 billion).
  • A highly skilled and motivated labour force, underpinning generally good labour market performance measured by low unemployment overall and low youth unemployment.
  • Social partners, taking responsibility for preparing reform proposals for the
  • Government, and
  • Going beyond the traditional role of negotiating wages and work conditions as well as organising social security services.

Compared to 2013, the turnover of the Austrian foreign trade in 2014 indicated a decrease with regard to imports and a positive growth rate with regard to exports. Austrian imports of goods decreased by 0.7% to Euro 129,85 billion while Austrian exports increased by 1.8% to Euro 128.11 billion. Foreign trade with EU member states showed a similar development, imports decreased by 0.7% to Euro 92.5 billion and exports increased by 1.01% to Euro 88 billion. Trade with other countries showed a decrease for imports 0.5% to Euro 37.3 billion and exports increased by 2.1% to Euro 39.9 billion.

4.3 Economic Outlook

Austria’s economy remained stagnant towards the end of 2014.  The GDP did not increase in the fourth quarter of 2014, compared with the third quarter of 2014.  Growth for 2015 is predicted to be 1%.  The economic think tank WIFO confirmed that growth in 2014 was 0.3%.


5. FOREIGN POLICY AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

AAustria concentrates on regional cooperation in Europe and works towards world peace based on human rights, good governance and democracy on a bilateral and multilateral level. The modern state of Austria came into being in 1955 with the signing of the State Treaty, which guaranteed permanent neutrality. The end of the Cold War and Austria's EU membership in 1995 has made the country rethink their present policy of neutrality. The need for closer cooperation with EU members has become even more urgent in the light of the new military demands placed on EU members after the adoption of the new defence and security policy in 1999, and the NATO membership of neighbouring countries Poland, Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. The new Foreign Minister, Mr Kurz indicated that Austria’s foreign policy is primarily based on the Western Balkan States and the EU.

5.1 European Union (EU)

The new coalition government expressed its commitment to promoting unity in Europe, recognising that the Eurozone and Euro currency “are of central importance to Europe”.  The goal of sharing data with other EU countries was also mentioned, although the coalition parties reiterated the point that a level playing field with Switzerland and Lichtenstein must first be ensured.  This follow criticism levelled at Austria earlier in December 2013 over the refusal to move forward with EU plans on tax evasion until Swiss banks secrecy had been dealt with.

At the President’s New Year’s Reception 2015 he told the Diplomatic Corps that Austria has been a member of the EU for 20 years and in the years of the financial crises, a united Europe proved to be a reality that demonstrated its ability to master even major problems together. He also stated that Austria continues to fully support the EU enlargement process in the Western Balkans, a region with which Austria has strong historical, economic and cultural ties.

5.2 European Council

Austria’s Presidency of the Council of Europe ended in November 2014. President Fischer in his New Year’s Reception remarks stated that Austria has always attached great importance to the Council of Europe as the largest pan-European area of justice. Its contribution to establishing a democratic Europe on the foundations of human rights and the rule of law after World War II cannot be overstated he said.

5.3 Central and Eastern European Relations

Because of its central geographical location in Europe, Central and Eastern Europe is an important part of Austrian foreign policy and trading patterns. The opening up of Eastern Europe has had a big impact on the country's trading patterns and labour market in recent years. Since the beginning of the 1990's an estimated 100 000 new jobs have been created and Austrian exports to Eastern Europe have trebled. Austria has invested roughly 10% ($2.5 billion) of its total foreign investment in Eastern Europe.

Austria plays a prominent role in the Central European Initiative (CEI). This organization came into being early in November 1989 when the Foreign Ministers of Austria, Hungary, Italy and the former Yugoslavia (now divided into the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY), Serbia and Montenegro, Macedonia, Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia-Herzegovina), met in Budapest and decided on the strengthening of regional cooperation among the countries concerned. Since then, the CEI's role has expanded to include a bridging function for the majority of its members which still stand outside the mainstream of the rapidly developing European integration process. During the Austrian Presidency of the CEI at the Heads of Government Summit on 24 November 2014, reaffirmed the validity of the CEI, the oldest and largest Central European Organisation and confirmed the commitment to it as an essential platform for supporting European integration through a strengthened cooperation between and among its member states.

5.3.1 EU - Eastern Enlargement - Austrian Position

The fall of the Iron Curtain has led to fundamental political, economic and military changes in Europe. In view of Austria's geographical and political situation, the security and stabilization of Eastern European countries are of the utmost importance for Austria, which sees the accession of the Eastern European candidate countries to the European Union as the best way of ensuring political, economic, social and ecological stability in the Eastern European region.

Only enlargement offers Austria the opportunity to shift from the periphery into the heart of Europe. The Austrian economy saw the opportunities opening up on the new markets at a very early stage and was quick to seize and exploit them. Austria's close economic ties particularly with its Central and Eastern European neighbours Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Slovakia are a major pillar of the Austrian economy. Today, for instance, neighbour Slovenia imports more Austrian products than Japan, Russia or China. Austria exports as many goods to Hungary as it does to the USA.

5.4. NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization)

Although Austria joined NATO's "Partnership for Peace" on 10 February 1995, full membership of NATO remains a point of contention among all the political parties and other opinion formers in Austria. Especially following the NATO bombing of Serbia during the Kosovo crisis in 1999 the public opinion towards NATO membership became even more negative. However, it can be expected that reality will dictate Austria's future participation in the European Union's defence programmes. Austria still emphasises its neutrality although it is a member of the EU.

5.5 WEU (Western European Union)

In November 1996, Austria signed a cooperation (security) agreement with the WEU, with whom it has observer status. Current discussion on whether to formally join the organization (the EU's primary security organization) is taking place within the neutrality debate.

5.6 OSCE (Organization for Security and and Co-operation in Europe)

Vienna is the seat of the OSCE and Austria, led by then Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner, was the Chair of the OSCE in 2000. Austria plays an active role in this organization and is a large contributor to OSCE-led peace-keeping missions abroad.

5.7 Peacekeeping

Austria prides itself in having built up many years of experience in international peacekeeping and conflict resolution and offers internationally recognized training courses at Schlaining. Over the past few years it has been a voluntary contributor of troops to peacekeeping missions inter alia in Cyprus, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Namibia, Cambodia, Somalia and Rwanda. Since 1996 Austria has been concentrating on Bosnia, Slovenia, Guatemala, Albania and Kosovo. Austria has also contributed to several humanitarian missions and emphasizes the role of civil society in its conflict prevention and peacekeeping efforts.

Austria is a member of the UN Stand-by Arrangement System (SAS) established in 1994 and takes part in the UN Stand-by Forces high Readiness Brigade (SHIRBRIG).

The EU has called in January 2014 on member states to provide peace keeping troops for the Central African Republic. Austria indicated that they will send troops to Mali and the Central African Republic.

5.8 EU/SADC relations

EU/SADC relations featured prominently during Austria's presidency of the EU in the latter half of 1998.

  • Austria hosted a seminar on conflict prevention in Harare in August 1998.
  • Austria hosted a seminar on the region's transport network in Maputo in October 1998.
  • From 10 to 12 October 1998 Austria hosted the SADC/EU Parliamentary and NGO Conference on the topic "European - Southern African Cooperation in a Globalizing World".
  • Austria hosted the Third EU/SADC Joint Ministerial Conference in Vienna from 3 to 4 November 1998. The late Minister Nzo, in his capacity as Chair of the Council of Ministers of SADC, co-chaired the event with his Austrian colleague, Minister Schuessel.

Austria/Sub Saharan Africa relations

Austria attaches great importance to the reform of the security sector and the holding of democratic elections. Austrian election observers have taken part in the EU election observation mission in Sudan in April 2010 and have monitored the parliamentary elections in Ethiopia in May 2010. Austrian election observers are also part of the EU election observation mission to monitor the presidential elections in Guinea in June 2010. Austria is taking part in the EU Mission EUSEC which is working on security sector reform in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The visits of Federal President Heinz Fischer to Ethiopia and Mali in February 2008 and former Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger in Ethiopia and Uganda in July 2009 as well as the visit of the late President of the National Assembly Barbara Prammer in Namibia in February 2010 have underscored the current increased cooperation between Austria and the African partners. The visit of Federal President Heinz Fischer was the first visit of an Austrian head of state to countries south of the Sahara.

Austria has six embassies and permanent representations (Dakar, Nairobi, Addis Ababa, Abuja, Harare and Pretoria) in sub-Saharan Africa in addition to six coordination offices for development cooperation (Ouagadougou, Praia, Dakar, Maputo, Kampala, Addis Ababa). Austrian Trade Commissions in Lagos and Johannesburg are seeking to develop the commercial relations between Austria and the African states south of the Sahara. On the European level, the negotiations on an economic partnership agreement (EPA) with West African states are expected to be completed during the year 2010. Trade barriers shall be abolished and the exchange of goods increased. The regional economic integration in Africa follows this logic and is contributing to the increase in investment flows in this geographic region.

With regard to development policy, Ethiopia, Uganda, Mozambique, Burkina Faso and Cap Verde are key countries of the Austrian development aid.

5.9 Development Cooperation

Effective from 1 January 2004, the operational implementation of projects and programmes under the Austrian Development Cooperation (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) has been outsourced to the Austrian Development Agency (ADA). The Austrian Federal Government is the sole founder and owner of the ADA, and the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs represents the ADA's interests. The ADA’s operational budget has shrunk from Euro 103 million in 2008 to Euro 66 million in 2014.

Austrian Development Cooperation (ADC) pursues its goals of reducing global poverty, ensuring peace and human security and preserving the environment in an international framework. The policies and programmes parameters are agreed on with the European Union and in international committees (EU, UN, OECD). Two policy pillars of bilateral and multilateral development cooperation are the Millennium Development Goals and the Paris Declaration.

5.10 Multilateral/UN

Multilateral politics form an important part of Austria's foreign policy. Vienna is one of three world centres, which host United Nations Offices:

The United Nations Office in Vienna (UNOV) ranks third after the UN Headquarters in New York and the United Nations Office in Geneva. UNOV is responsible for the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (CPCS) and its Secretariat, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) (previously CND); the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice; the Office for Outer Space Affairs, and the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law Secretariat. Vienna is host to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO). Also located in Vienna is the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), as well as the headquarters of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Multilateral non-proliferation bodies based in Vienna include the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Zangger Committee and the Wassenaar Arrangement.

Vienna was originally selected to be a United Nations centre mainly because of its neutrality vis-à-vis the Cold War situation. In recent times, however, Austria has been moving closer to the Western alliance, although it has not joined NATO. Austria's State Treaty signed in 1955 actually entrenches Austria's permanent neutrality.

Austria has in general been a strong supporter of the UN and all its activities, and is in the forefront of initiatives in support of disarmament (e.g. landmines) and human rights promotion. It is also very active in UN peacekeeping activities, and is prominently represented in UN peacekeeping forces in Cyprus and the Golan Heights. It also contributes to UN observer missions in such places as Iraq/Kuwait, Kosovo and Western Sahara. Austria continues to sponsor UN conferences in Vienna.

Austria was a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for the period 2009-2010.

On the 20th May 2011 Austria was elected as a member of the Human Rights Council by the General Assembly of the United Nations. As a result, Austria is a member in the highest forum for human rights within the United Nations from 19th June 2011 to 31 December 2014.

In January 2014 Austria was elected as the President of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).


6. RELATIONS WITH SOUTH AFRICA

6.1 Political Relations

Since 1994 bilateral relations have been cordial. In addition to engaging the Austrian Government at national level in support of development programmes and increased economic involvement, provincial partnerships with key Austrian provinces have also resulted in support for development needs for South Africa.

6.2 High-level Bilateral Visits

The following high level visits between SA and Austria have taken place since 1994:

- The former Austrian Minister of Public Enterprises, Dr Klima, visited South Africa during February 1995.

- Former Deputy President Mbeki paid a highly successful visit to Austria in September 1995, at the invitation of Chancellor Vranitzky.

- The Speaker of Parliament, Dr Frene Ginwala, and a delegation comprising of senior management officials from parliament visited Vienna on a fact-finding tour in September 1996.

- The then Austrian Foreign Minister, Dr Wolfgang Schüssel, paid a working visit to South Africa in November 1996. Minister Schüssel was accompanied by the Minister for Economic Affairs, Dr Farnleitner, and a business delegation. A bilateral Agreement on the Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investments, as well as an Agreement on the Abolition of Visa Requirements for Holders of Diplomatic and Official Passports were signed during this visit.

- Then Deputy President Mbeki again visited Austria on 3 October 1997 at the invitation of the Chancellor. During this visit, he met with the President, Chancellor and Foreign Minister and also exchanged the instruments of ratification for the implementation of the Investment Protection Agreement with Austria.

- Minister Erwin accepted an invitation by the Austrian Minister for Economic Affairs, Dr Johannes Farnleitner to visit Austria in January 1998. A Nedlac delegation also visited Austria at the same time.

- The former Austrian State Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Dr Benita Ferrero-Waldner, visited South Africa on 3 February 1998 at the invitation of Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad for discussions on EU/SADC cooperation.

- The former Austrian Minister for Women's Affairs, Mrs Prammer, invited both Ministers Fraser-Moleketi and Dlamini-Zuma to visit Austria. Minister Fraser-Moleketi visited Vienna in March 1998.

- Former President Mandela and Former Chancellor Klima met in Cardiff in June 1998 during the EU Summit for general discussions on Austria's EU Presidency and South Africa's position as chair of the SADC.

- Then Premier Stofile of the Eastern Cape visited Lower Austria in June 1998 to formalize cooperation between the two provinces.

- Archbishop Tutu attended the 50th anniversary of the UN's Universal Declaration on Human Rights in Vienna in June 1998.

- The former Speaker of Parliament, Dr Frene Ginwala, attended the SADC/EU Parliamentarian Conference in Vienna from 10 - 12 October 1998.

- The late Minister Nzo, in his capacity as Chair of the Council of Ministers of SADC, visited Vienna in the first week of November 1998. He acted, together with the then Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Schüssel, as co-chair of the EU/SADC Ministerial Conference.

- The previous Director-General, in his former capacity as DG of the Department of Labour, met with key Austrian labour market institutions in Vienna on 13 November 1998. The purpose of the discussions was to propose and initiate cooperation with Austria in the development of human resources in the South African labour market.

- The former Austrian Chancellor, Dr Viktor Klima, the Minister of Finance, Mr. Rudolf Edlinger and a high-level business delegation visited South Africa from 2 to 4 February 1999. Various matters of interest to both countries were discussed.

- In his capacity as President of the Inkhata Freedom Party, former Minister Mangosutho Buthelezi paid a visit to Vienna from 2-3 March 1999. He was invited to attend the Conference of the European People's Party (EPP) which was held in Vienna from 1 - 6 March 1999.

- Former Deputy Minister Brigitte Mabandla was scheduled to visit Austria in 1998 in order to look at ways of increasing cultural relations with South Africa. The visit was postponed by the South African side due to clashes in the Deputy-Minister's programme.

- Official visit by General Nyanda to Austria in June 2001 on invitation by the Austrian Defense Force.

- Late Minister Dullah-Omar visited Austria in 2001 to attend an International Railway Congress.

- The former Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ferrero-Waldner and former Minister of Agriculture, Molterer attended the WSSD Johannesburg in 2002

- Then Minister Skweyiya paid a visit to Austria in April 2003 to attend a Ministerial UN Meeting (CND).

- The visit of former Austrian Minister of Interior, Mr Strasser to South Africa in May 2003 to sign a Bilateral Police Cooperation Agreement.

- Visit of the National Council of Provinces: KwaZulu/Natal Standing Committee to Austria in May 2003.

- Visit of the National Council of Provinces, led by Mrs Naledi Pandor to Austria in June 2003 on invitation of the Austrian Federal Council of Parliament.

- Visit of Dr Erwin Proell, Governor of Lower Austria and delegation to Eastern Cape in August 2003.

- Late Mr Nelson Mandela’s visit to Austria in October 2003 on invitation by former Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ferrero-Waldner.

- Visit of Ms Susan Shabangu, former Deputy Minister of Minerals and Energy, and Ms Myakayaka-Manzini, Deputy President of the ANC Women's League, to Austria in November 2003, to attend the "Women without Borders" Conference.

- Visit of late Ms Tshabalala-Msimang, Minister for Health, to Austria in June 2004 to attend the World Conference on Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion.

- Visit of the Judge President Tshabalala of the High Court in Durban to Vienna in September 2004

- Visit of then Deputy Minister Hanekom and delegation to Vienna from 27 to 29 October 2004, to attend the Panel on Science and Technology Promotion, Advice and Application for the Achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (UNCSTD). Met with Austrian Minister of Education, Science and Culture, Mrs Gehrer and Deputy Minister of Technology, Mr Mainoni, as well as the head of the Austrian Academy of Science.

- Visit of a delegation of the South African Department of Public Enterprises (DG & DDG's) to Austria from 6 to 9 February 2005.

- Visit of the Chief Justice, the late Mr Pius Langa to Austria October 2005, 2006 and March 2007.

- Visit of the then Premier Ebrahim Rasool and delegation to Linz in July 06, to attend Regional Leaders Summit hosted by Governor of Upper Austria

- Visit of Ms Buyelwa Patience Sonjica, then Minister of Minerals & Energy, to Vienna in September 06, to attend the IAEA General Conference

- A visit by former Eastern Cape Premier Nosimo Balindlela and delegation to lower Austria in 2007, to further strengthen ties between the two provinces.

- Visit by Dr M Stofile, Minister of Sport and Recreation, Mr Jabu Moleketi, Deputy Minister of Finance, Mr Danny Jordaan, LOC SA, and Dr Irvin Khoza, LOC SA to attend the Media Function in Vienna for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa during the EURO 2008, in June 2008.

- Visit to South Africa by Ms Brigitte Jank, President of Vienna Economic Chamber with a delegation in March 2009.

- Visit to South Africa by Ms Renate Brauner, Vice Mayor of the City of Vienna in May / June 2009.

- Visit by Minister of Higher Education and Training, Mr B Nzimande to Austria, 10 – 12 March 2010 to attend Bologna Policy Forum.

- Visit by Deputy President Motlanthe to Vienna in July 2010 to attend XVIII Aids Congress

- Visit by Minister of Energy, Ms Dipuo Peters to attend “Africa-EU High Level Ministerial Conference on Energy Partnership” in Vienna 14 – 15 September 2010

- Go SA Forum, 25 January 2011, participation by: Barbara Thompson, DepMin of Energy, Premier Kieviet (Eastern Cape) and delegation, Western Cape delegation (MEC’s), and delegations from Provincial Investment Agencies, Municipalities and Business

- Visit by Premier Zille, Western Cape to Upper Austria in Sept. 2011

- Climate Change Conference, Durban, Dec 2011, Minister of Environment, Nikolaus Berlakovich and delegation

- Visit by Minister Nkoana-Mashabane in June 2013 to attend meetings at the UN

- Visit by Minister Martins to attend the IAEA General Conference in September 2013
- Visit by Minister Joemat-Petersson to attend the IAEA General Conference in September 2014

- Visit by Deputy Minister Bogopane-Zulu to attend the Zero Project Disability Conference 2015 in February 2015

- Visit by the second President of the Austrian National Council (Parliament lower chamber), Mr K Kopf (OVP) to South Africa in March 2015

- Visit by Minister Pandor to attend the CTBT Science and Technology 2015 Conference in June 2015

6.3 Economic Relations

Austrian foreign trade patterns are dominated by the EU. 28 % of Austria’s imports and exports are with the rest of the world, which means that 72 % are with the EU, of which 40 % is with Germany while 60 % are with the other 27 EU member states. Of the 28 % with the rest of the world, only 1 % is with Africa.

6.3.1 Bilateral trade between South Africa and Austria

In 2014, South African exports to Austria amounted to Euro 427.6 million while Austrian exports to South Africa amounted to Euro 476.8 million. The total trade amounted to Euro 904.4 million, a decrease for South Africa of 18.1% compare to the same period in 2013 while for Austria it is a decrease of 5.8% compare to the same period in 2013.

In 2013 total trade between Austria and South Africa amounted to Euro 1.028 billion of which Euro 522.1 million was South African exports to Austria and Euro 506.3 million was Austrian exports to South Africa.  In 2012 total trade was Euro .918 billion of which Euro 370.3 million was South African exports to Austria and Euro 548.4 million was Austrian exports to South Africa.

Major SA exports to Austria: iron ore, pulp and waste paper, minerals, fruit and vegetables, other crude minerals, pig iron, ferro-alloys, trucks, gold non-monetary, ores and concentrates of base metals, silver and platinum

Major Austrian exports to South Africa: electrical machinery and equipment, paper and paper board, chemicals, internal combustion engines and parts thereof, motor vehicles, civil engineering and contractor’s plant equipment, rails and building materials, medicaments (including veterinary medicaments), manufactures of metals, non-metallic mineral manufactures

Although Austria is an EU member it still enforces certain health regulations to food products over and above that recommended by EU authorities (e.g. the sulphur content in dried fruits).

6.3.2 Bilateral investments between South Africa and Austria

According to the SA Reserve Bank’s Quarterly Report for December 2014, South African total direct investment in Austria is R 43 753 million while Austrian total direct investment in South Africa is R10 091 million.

6.3.2.1 South African investments in Austria

Mondi (Head Office in Vienna responsible for the rest of the world excluding Africa) has invested US$ 250 million in the Austrian paper and pulp sector, including shares in Austria’s largest private company Patria Paper. In 2014 Mondi invested a further Euro 24 million in its plant in Frantschach, Carinthia.

Sappi Ltd. owns a paper mill in Gratkorn, Styria.

Capespan

Steinhoff International bought in 2013 the furniture group Kika-Leiner.

In 2014, Dimension Data SA (a subsidiary of the Japanese company NTT Group) acquired 100% of the NextiraOne Austria.

6.3.2.2 Austrian investments in SA

More than 50 Austrian companies have a direct involvement in South Africa that include amongst other the VAE Railway Systems, Voestalpine Technologies, Agrana, Tridonic, Plasser and Theurer, Efkon, DOKA, Schrack, Kapsch, RHI and Tyrolit from the Swarovski Group.

A major investment in 2010 was that made by Kapsch TrafficCom who acquired a SA company Traffic Management. Traffic Management has a share of 35 % in the Electronic Toll Collection Joint Venture which was entrusted by the South African National Roads Agency with the erection and operation of a Multi-lane free-flow tolling system in the province of Gauteng.

In August 2011, the Austrian EFKON Group announced that its subsidiary Tollink South Africa has received an additional major order for the supply and maintenance of the toll plazas on the N1 North Toll Road in South Africa. EFKON’s subsidiary Tollink won the tender for the maintenance component of the contract, which is valued at around Euro11 million. The contract spans eight years and includes the full upgrade of the N1 North route toll plazas as well as the maintenance and support of the system. The project started in June 2011 and the operation service period is scheduled to end on 30 June 2019.

In 2012 FMT Industrieholding GmbH established a company in South Africa under the name Ferromont South Africa.

In 2014 the Austrian Swarovski Group through its company Tyrolit has taken over 51% of the South African company Grinding Techniques Pty Ltd.

ALPLA, a company specializes in plastic packaging, opened a plant in Kempton Park in 2014.

6.4 Tourism

Statistics from the South African Tourism demonstrate the positive trend:

Austrians visiting South Africa:

Year

Number of persons

2010

19 018 persons

2011

20 575 persons

2012

21 365 persons

2013

23 193 persons

2014

24 290 persons

In South Africa there is a large Austrian community of about 22 000 (the third largest after Germany and the US). South African Airways (SAA) commended with its daily flight connection between Munich and Johannesburg as from 4 July 2007 and in 2014 the annual capacity was increased to 25 000 seats.

6.5 South African - Austrian Development Cooperation

Austrian Development Co-operation concentrated in the past its engagement in South Africa in local government/local governance on provincial level in the Limpopo Province and Eastern Cape. The Austrian Development Co-operation supported the institutional development of decentralised/local structures (governmental and non-governmental) so that development challenges and priorities were identified and adequate development problem solving strategies are planned, implemented and monitored.  The Austrian Development Agency (ADA) still funds projects in South Africa, however, only when it is an Austrian company with a developmental project such as Fronius a welding company that established a welding academy and SEG Solar Energy that provides training to installing solar systems. The Austrian Development Bank has so far only provided a loan for First Rand Bank on the basis that the funds are used for energy efficiency.

Independent development cooperation projects:

  • The City of Vienna and the Vienna Chamber of Commerce jointly presented a project to the Vienna City Council during November 1994 for the building of the Masibambane School (Orange Farm Education Centre) in the Orange Farm Township near Johannesburg. In addition to the City of Vienna's initial contribution of ATS 3.4 million (R1.7 million), the Vienna Chamber of Commerce also committed itself to an additional sum of ATS 500 000. (R250 000) The "Viennese School" was officially opened in September 1996. The Vienna School Council also announced its intention to establish a school partnership programme in co-operation with Education Africa. This partnership makes provision for an exchange programme for students and teachers.
  • A children's home at the SOS children’s village (SOS Kinderdorf) was established in Cape Town through funding by companies in the province of Upper Austria.
  • Austria has donated an amount of ATS 2 million (R1 million) to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
  • During Chancellor Klima's visit to South Africa in February 1999 a donation of one million Rand was made to the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund (to be used towards the purchase of school textbooks).

During late former President Mandela’s visit to Austria in October 2003 a donation from Austrian companies in cooperation with the Austrian Foreign Ministry was made to the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund.

6.6 Provincial Co-operation

Provincial partnership agreements exist between three South African and Austrian provinces. These are between:

  • Upper Austria and Western Cape (1995)

This is a very active agreement and covers aspects such as economic issues and science, nature and environment, culture, education and youth, and information and commerce. Since the signing, several visits have taken place and these have resulted in a number of projects in support of skills training, capacity building in the administrative field, culture, education, bio-agriculture and technology transfer. The bilateral agreement between the provinces has been transferred in 2002 to a multilateral MoU of “The Regional Leaders of the Partner Regions – Bavaria, Upper Austria, Quebec, Shandong and Western Cape”. The 2010 meeting of the Premiers took place in September 2010 in the Western Cape, the 2011 meeting in September 2011 in Upper Austria. An agriculture delegation from the Western Cape Government visited Linz in 2014.

  • Mpumalanga and Carinthia (1997)

The agreement signed in 1997 was valid for a period of 5 year and expired in 2002.

  • Eastern Cape and Lower Austria (1998)

This partnership signed in 1998 and valid for a period of 5 years was a very active one as Lower Austria has committed itself to assist with capacity building programmes in the field of provincial and local government administration, economic exchange, active investment promotion and tourism training. Premier Stofile has visited Lower Austria twice and in September 2000 two tourism post-graduate students selected by the Eastern Cape Government arrived in Austria on a fully paid four-year bursary at the internationally renowned Tourism and Management School at Krems. Governor Proell visited Eastern Cape in August 2003 and donated € 60.000 for a medical clinic.

Premier Balindlela and delegation visited Lower Austria in October 2007 to investigate the possibility of renewal of the partnership. This visit resulted in an expert delegation from Lower Austria to visit the Eastern Cape in January 2008 to explore further areas of cooperation and to prepare for the intended visit of Governor Proell to the Eastern Cape in early 2009. Premier Balindlela resigned and Governor Proell cancelled his proposed visit to the Eastern Cape. The current situation needs to be re-evaluated with the new Premier of the Eastern Cape, Ms Noxolo Kiviet.

Premier Kiviet visited Austria in January 2011 and had talks with important interlocutors.  The partnership is no longer active.


ANNEX A: THE AUSTRIAN CABINET

Chancellor Mr Werner Faymann (SPÖ)
Vice-Chancellor & Minister for Science, Research and Economy Dr Reinhold Mitterlehner (ÖVP)
  
MINISTERS: 
Minister in the Chancellor’s Office (Responsible for Arts, Culture, Constitution and Media) Mr Josef Ostermayer (SPÖ)
Minister for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs Mr Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP)
Minister for Transport, Innovation and Technology Mr Alois Stöger (SPÖ)
Minister for Labour and Social Affairs Mr Rudolf Hundstorfer (SPÖ)
Minister for Finance Dr Hans Jörg Schelling (ÖVP)
Minister for Justice Dr Wolfgang Brandstetter (ÖVP)
Minister for Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management Mr Andrä Rupprechter (ÖVP)
Minister for Health Dr Sabine Oberhauser (SPÖ)
Minister for Education and Women’s Affairs Ms Gabriele Heinisch-Hosek (SPÖ)
Minister for Defence and Sports Mr Gerald Klug (SPÖ)
Minister for Interior Affairs Mr Johanna Mikl-Leitner (ÖVP)
Minister for Family and Youth Dr Sophie Karmasin (ÖVP)
  
SECRETARIES OF STATE (i.e. DEPUTY MINISTERS):
Deputy Minister for Administration and Public Service in the Chancellor’s Office Ms Sonja Stessl (SPÖ)
Deputy Minister for Science, Research and Economy Dr Harald Mahrer (ÖVP)


ANNEX B: BILATERAL AGREEMENTS

The following agreements between Austria and South Africa have been concluded:

- Extradition Treaty - signed in 1873 and renegotiated in 1901.

- Parcel Post Agreement - concluded in 1957.

- Exchange of Notes on the Commonwealth War Cemetery in Klagenfurt - concluded in 1967.

- Air Transport Agreement - signed in 1969.

- Agreement on the Issue of Visas Free of Charge - signed in 1981.

- Air Services Agreement - concluded in February 1995.

- Agreement between the Western Cape and Upper Austria - an Agreement on Partnership between the Province of Upper Austria and the Province of Western Cape was signed on 15 May 1995 during a visit to Austria by Premier Kriel.

- Double Taxation Agreement - an Agreement on the Avoidance of Double Taxation was signed by Deputy President Mbeki and Ambassador Palla on 4 March 1996 in Cape Town and entered into force during the first half of 1997.

- Protection of Investment Agreement - signed in November 1996 during the visit to South Africa by the Austrian Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister, Dr W Schüssel. The agreement entered into force on 3 January 1998.

- Agreement on the Abolition of Visa Requirements - an Agreement on the Abolition of Visa Requirements for Holders of Diplomatic and Official Passports was signed in November 1996 between Minister Schüssel and Minister Nzo. The Agreement entered into force in January 1997.

- Letter of Intent between Mpumalanga and Carinthia - the letter of intent regarding closer cooperation between the provinces of Mpumalanga and Carinthia was signed on 11 March 1997.

- Declaration of Intent between the Eastern Cape and Lower Austria - this declaration on closer cooperation was signed on 16 June 1998 during a visit to Lower Austria by Premier Stofile.

- Bilateral Police Cooperation Agreement - signed in May 2003. (Ratification remains to be facilitated as well as follow-up visit to Austria by South Africa's Minister of Safety and Security.

- Protocol and Additional Protocol Amending the Convention for the Avoidance of Double Taxation with respect to Taxes on Income and on Capital – concluded in 1996. This Protocol was signed in 2011

Updated: 29 June 2015


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