12 March 2010
Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Lindiwe Sisulu
Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Member of Parliament (MP)
Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies, MP
Members of the media
For our colleagues in Pretoria, we should be grateful that technology has eliminated the distance between us, something that was unimaginable when we came in as government in 1994. Thank you for joining us and welcome to this International Cooperation, Trade and Security Cluster briefing, the first briefing of the Cluster in 2010.
The objective of this briefing is to elaborate on the cluster’s plans for the year ahead. This is the second briefing since the inception of the cluster under the new administration. The president and the administration have prioritised International Cooperation, Trade and Security for the next five years and beyond.
Government has adopted an outcomes based approach in measuring the impact of our intervention. This approach aims to measure the work of government according to targets and outcomes. These performance outcomes are politically determined positions of government to achieve greater and more focused development.
While the details of this outcome based performance outlook continue to be refined and polished, the ICTS cluster remains mandated to engage in diplomatic relations aimed at creating and achieving “a Better South Africa in a Better Africa and a Better World”.
We postponed this media briefing due to our state visit to the United Kingdom. The aim of this visit was to strengthen political and economic relations, explore new economic opportunities and reassure investors. Our visit to the United Kingdom re-confirmed that our approach to national development and eco prosperity can only be assured when we have addressed security concerns.
We also used this opportunity to reassure the world that we have been ready to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup for a very long time, and our success with the 2009 Confederation Cup and the FIFA draw bare testimony to this. With all the stadiums, facilities and security ready, we are happy to declare South Africa and its people ready for the FIFA 2010 world Cup.
1. Our economy and trade relations have not been immune to the international financial crisis; a financial crisis, which is not our own making, but an outcome of enduring proliferation of speculative activities fuelled by questionable regulatory mechanisms.
While we were largely spared the full impact of the crisis due to a combination of prudent financial regulation, the National Credit Act (NCA) and the maintenance of exchange controls, the challenges posed by the financial crisis include contraction in gross domestic product, job losses, industry closures and declining manufacturing output.
However, we remain confident that our industrial policy action plan presents a significant step forward in accelerating efforts to promote long-term industrial diversification beyond current reliance on traditional commodities and non-tradable services. These measures were taken to accelerate our economic recovery. Indeed, we are pleased with the latest report compiled by Bureau for Economic Research indicating that business confidence index (BCI) “had risen 15 points to 43 in the current quarter, the single biggest increase in 16 years. Also at 43 the BCI was back to the level before the financial market crisis erupted about 18 months ago.” Economic projections for the coming financial year are encouraging.
As part of our economic recovery strategy, we will be strengthening our trade relations with our global partners who continue to play a strategic role in the global economy. In addition, as a cluster, our recovery strategies will foster African development through regional and continental integration and development co-operation, consistent with New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) programmes.
Within Southern African Development Communities (SADC), we will intensify our efforts to consolidate the free trade area and facilitate the African integration by pursuing trilateral Southern African Development Community (SADC) East African Community (EAC) and the Community of East African States (COMESA).
2. We continue to intensify efforts to promote South Africa’s interests globally. In this regard, we continue to strengthen our bilateral relations with countries throughout the world to promote our interests and to seek assistance with our domestic priorities in education, health, rural development, land reform, investment opportunities, work creation and fighting crime. We are committed to strengthening diplomatic relations to help achieve our economic and social priorities.
This year marks our 11th year in peace keeping initiatives on the African continent. A safer and prosperous Africa is in our best interests and we remain committed to diplomatic and other progressive efforts to stabilise our continent.
3. Efforts to strengthen and expedite the integration of SADC and promote regional trade and investment opportunities remain our key consideration. In this regard, we will continue to work with our neighbours to strengthen political and economic relations. We will continue to intensify our efforts to deepen regional integration in Southern Africa and to support effort to consolidate Africa’s integration. In advancing integration in both Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU) and SADC, it is increasingly clear that trade integration must be complemented with more determined efforts to build diversified production capacity in the region. This is essential if the trade opportunities that arise from more open regional markets are to be shared equitably.
We are mindful that the prosperity we seek in the region can only be achieved by providing the necessary security guarantees. In this regard, we have been at the forefront of the conceptualisation, establishment and operation of the SADC Early Warning Centre in Gaborone, Botswana.
The primary objective of this early warning mechanism is to maintain peace and stability and by strengthening regional mechanisms for conflict prevention, management and resolution. We also remain committed to strengthening capacity of the SADC brigade (SADCBRIG) as a building block of the African Standby Force (ASF), whose first roadmap mandated, should be operational in the course of this year.
4. Consolidation of African unity through continental efforts to strengthen the African Union and its organs remains our priority. We will assist these efforts through our membership of the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC), to which we have been elected as a member for a two-year term with effect from April this year.
Our possible re-election to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in October this year, following endorsement by the African Union, will also strengthen our position to advance African causes in international multilateral forums. This reality will no doubt also strengthen our commitment to post-conflict resolution and reconstruction and development initiatives on the continent. A comprehensive update on some of our activities on the continent in this regard is included in the briefing document you received.
5. Revitalising NEPAD as a strategy for economic development on the continent remains one of our objectives. The, 21st NEPAD Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee (HSGIC) meeting in Sirte last year deliberated on the integration of NEPAD into African Union structures and processes. An amount of United States $3 million has been budgeted for this integration process.
6. Our commitment to the development and adoption a legally binding climate change remains central to our international objectives. Together with India, Brazil, China and the United States we will continue the political agreement stemming from the negotiations among heads of state of a group of countries at 15th conference of the parties (COP15), known as the Copenhagen Accord.
Currently, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat is facilitating pledges for emission reductions under its appended tables, and formal association with the accord. We have chosen to associate ourselves with the Accord by submitting actions to be listed in appendix II of the accord, but view the accord as a political agreement that must give impetus to further negotiations under the convention.
We remain fully supportive of efforts to achieve a fair, inclusive and comprehensive outcome to climate change negotiations which the heads of states have agreed. We are aware of the importance of the Copenhagen Accord as a political agreement giving impetus to the negotiation process under the UNFCCC.
Issued by: Government Communications (GCIS)