Bua Briefs 14 of 2011

12 October 2011

Fifth summit of the India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) dialogue

As chairperson of the IBSA Dialogue Forum, President Jacob Zuma is scheduled to host the fifth IBSA Summit Head of State and Government Summit from 17 to 19 October 2011.

IBSA was established on 6 June 2003. According to the Brasília Declaration, priority is given to social inclusion and equality, the promotion of food security, health, social assistance, employment, education, human rights and environmental sustainability. IBSA was formed out of a vision to counteract the economic and political dominance of countries of the North on a global level.

The realisation of a trilateral alliance between India, Brazil and South Africa stems from three commonalities between the countries, namely: all three are vibrant democracies; they share common views on various global issues; and they are substantial emerging economies within their subregions.

The engagement processes of IBSA countries take place on three levels, namely: Heads of State and Government level, where joint positions on global political and multilateral issues are coordinated and articulated. It usually sets the agenda for further deliberations. The joint positions by the IBSA Heads of State and Government are pertinent issues affecting developing countries, such as reform of global governance institutions; the Doha Round and World Trade Organisation issues; hunger and poverty eradication; and the millennium development goals (MDGs).

Trilateral Government-to-Government level: this takes shape through sectoral cooperation within working groups focusing on specific needs. There are 16 sectoral working groups on the Government-to-Government level, namely:

(1) Trade and Investment, (2) Information Society, (3) Science and Technology, (4) Transport, (5) Energy, (6) Health, (7) Tourism, (8) Agriculture, (9) Education, (10) Cultural Cooperation, (11) Defence, (12) Social Development, (13) Public Administration, (14) Revenue Administration, (15) Climate Change/ Environment and (16) Human Settlements.

The uniqueness of IBSA is that it also includes a third level: People-to-People cooperation on a non-government level.This plays an important role in enhancing the visibility of the IBSA Dialogue Forum among the peoples of the three countries. This forum caters specifically for non-government actors and has attracted wide interest. The fifth IBSA Dialogue Forum is also being strategically positioned as leading to the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the seventh Session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the parties (CMP7) to the Kyoto Protocol (COP17/CMP7). South Africa has contributed to and is part of the African Common Position in preparation for the planned negotiations of COP17/CMP7.

Key messages
Supporting statements
The IBSA Summit provides an influential mechanism for strengthening and fostering South-South cooperation and advancing the interests of the South.
  • In advancing the sustainable development agenda, the IBSA Fund for Poverty and Hunger Alleviation was established for non-IBSA developing countries. The bloc’s countries committed to contribute at least US$ 1 million per year to the IBSA Trust Fund.
  • Recognition of the effectiveness of the IBSA Fund came from the United Nations South Alliance reward.
  • In 2010, the fund was awarded the MDG Award, which recognised the innovative approaches of India, Brazil and South Africa to share, replicate and scale up successful development experiences in other parts of the world (new development assistance paradigm).
  • South Africa’s hosting of COP17/CMP7 and Brazil’s hosting of the Rio + 20 Summit will assist IBSA in advancing the sustainable development agenda.
The IBSA provides a vehicle to revolutionise South-South trading patterns.
  • Trade between IBSA members is targeted at US$ 25 billion by 2015; this will have a major impact on the economy of member countries and their regions.
  • South Africa’s trade with IBSA partners has increased significantly since the forum’s inception in 2003 with trade growing from R36,920 billion in 2007 to R58,133 billion in 2010.
  • This combined increase of R21,213 billion in South Africa’s trade with IBSA over the period shows the impact of the IBSA Dialogue Forum on sustainable development across the three continents.
  • For IBSA countries to reach its planned trade targets, compatible technical infrastructure and systems will need to be developed.
The forum promotes joint positions on global issues to influence international discourse on key development issues affecting the South and developing countries.
  • The concurrent presence of all three IBSA countries in the Security Council during the year 2011 provides a unique opportunity to work closely to bring their perspectives into the work of the council and strengthen the voice of the South.
  • The forum aims to facilitate the trilateral exchange of information, technologies and skills to complement each other's strengths, into a unique model of multilateralism.
  • The bloc aims to explore avenues to promote cooperation in a broad range of areas, which include agriculture, climate change, culture, defence, education, energy, health, information society, science and technology, social development, trade and investment, tourism and transport.
  • The Brazil, the Russian Federation, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) Forum asserts that South-South cooperation is complementary to and not a substitute for North-South cooperation and calls on developed countries to fulfil their commitments by achieving the official United Nations target of 0,7% gross national income as official development assistance to developing countries.
South Africa will use its global standing to increase strategic cooperation among emerging market economies of the South to support the African Agenda.
  • South Africa’s geo-strategic position, right in the middle of a potentially flourishing South-South trade axis, highlights our key role in realising new trading patterns that will benefit the Southern African Development Community (SADC) as well as the rest of Africa.
  • South Africa is playing its part in advancing the New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad) priority sectors and particularly championing infrastructure development in Africa.
  • IBSA holds the potential of being Nepad’s global partner in the industrialisation of Africa and helps fast-track the knowledge era on the continent.
  • There are various priority areas that might be of interest to the IBSA community, including the private sector, such as information and communications technology (ICT), agriculture, infrastructure, transport, energy, water and sanitation.
  • South Africa will ensure that the rest of the African continent is advantaged by its BRICS membership and continues to benefit from the BRICS countries in the priority areas identified by the African Union, such as energy, ICT, rail and road infrastructure, agriculture and food security.
  • The structure of BRICS trade i.e. value-added exports supporting the National Industrial Policy Framework, the Industrial Policy Action Plan and the New Growth Path is more important than nominal volumes of trade.


Deputy President's working visits to the Nordic countries

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe is scheduled to undertake a tri-nation working visit to the Nordic countries (Finland, Sweden and Denmark) from 18 to 24 October 2011. 

Key messages
supporting statements
Nordic countries are strategic partners and this visit will consolidate and strengthen existing relations.
  • South Africa enjoys excellent relations with the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden), which stem from their strong grassroots support for the democratisation in South Africa.
  • Important relations with the Nordic countries have been established in virtually every field with Nordic development cooperation benefiting both civil society and government.
  • South Africa and the Nordic countries have had strong relations in the international arena, which have seen close cooperation on multilateral issues and contributions at the United Nations.
  • Trade between South Africa and Norway has steadily increased in value, from R746 million in 2005 to R3,18 billion in 2010.
Nordic countries have helped South Africa advance the African Agenda.
  • South Africa has been working with Nordic countries in partnership to deal with Africa's challenges, either bilaterally or through subregional and regional organisations.
  • South Africa and the Nordic countries expressed in the Skagen Declaration in 2000 that peace and stability are fundamental conditions for sustainable economic growth and social development on the African continent.
  • The Nordic-South Africa Declaration of Intent on Regional Partnerships in Africa, signed in 2008, has assisted in addressing a number of development issues on the continent through cooperation programmes aimed at promoting peace, security and development in Africa.
  • The Nordic countries are strong supporters of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad), which has been important in mobilising international consensus around the millennium development goals ahead of the United Nations (UN) Millennium Summit and the need to address Africa's particular needs and challenges.
  • Nordic countries are directly involved in conflict resolution and reconstruction projects in Africa, and have already entered into trilateral projects with South Africa such as in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Trade relations with Finland have room for further growth in South Africa's favour.
  • The trade balance between South Africa and Finland continues to be in Finland’s favour. Total imports by South Africa to Finland from January to December 2010 amounted to R3 273 479 934. Exports to Finland from January to December 2010 totalled R1 505 095 074.
  • Trade between Finland and South Africa has recorded good growth and is on an upward trajectory since UN-imposed economic sanctions on South Africa were lifted.
  • South African exports to Finland include food products (fresh and dried fruits), wine, pulp, paper, iron, steel and coal. South Africa mainly imports products such as telecommunications equipment, paper and board products as well as machinery from Finland.
  • Finland, together with other Nordic countries, contributed actively in the fall of apartheid and participated in the commercial blockade in the years 1987 to 1991. The re-establishment of official relations started in the 1994 after the first democratic elections.
Denmark is an important partner in promoting reform of the UN.
  • The Deputy President’s visit will fortify the work South Africa is doing with Denmark on strengthening the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), promoting UN reform and South Africa’s foreign policy objectives with regard to global governance reform.
  • Denmark was a very strong supporter of the anti-apartheid struggle and a major force in sanctions and disinvestment.
  • In December 2008, the Danish Government donated an amount of 20 million Danish Kroner towards the Nepad Infrastructure Project Facility Special Fund (Nepad – IPPF) covering the period 2009 to 2011.
  • Total exports from South Africa to Denmark from January to December 2010 amounted to R916 067 179.
Sweden and South Africa have a common vision towards climate change.
  • South Africa and Sweden both recognise the importance of a truly global legally binding agreement on mitigating the effects of climate change.
  • The two countries agree that the Copenhagen Accord should give direction to the negotiations leading up to a global agreement under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
  • The 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) in South Africa presents the opportunity for the two countries to work together in unblocking key issues and setting up a binding agreement.
  • A South Africa-Swedish Binational Commission (BNC) was inaugurated in September 2000 by President Thabo Mbeki and Prime Minister Göran Persson. The BNC established committees to work on cooperation agreements with regard to political, economic and social affairs.
  • Imports by South Africa from January to December 2010 totalled R1 000 099 142. Total exports to Sweden from January to December 2010 amounted to R1 493 958 264.
  • Sweden strongly supported the struggle for democracy in South Africa during the apartheid period. 



Science and Technology

South Africa targets new satellites

South Africa is planning to build its third satellite, which is part of a new African satellite constellation. These will fast-track government’s drive to grow the country's share of the global market for small - to medium-sized space systems. The Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, said government’s intention was to expand its investment in “micro” satellites, building on the existing SumbandilaSat platform.

Economic sectors and employment

Black Economic Empowerment  (BEE) remains vital to business success

South African private business owners still regard BEE as vitally important to business success, with 64% believing it is an important factor in winning new business. This figure has remained relatively constant throughout the years, with 61% affirming this view in 2010 and 63% in 2009. 

Labour and business partner on jobs front

Organised labour and business in the Western Cape have joined hands to tackle the poverty crisis by trying to create jobs in as little as two months. The Cape Chamber of Commerce and the Congress of South African Trade Unions in the Western Cape have signed a declaration at a jobs summit. They agreed that high levels of poverty and unemployment presented a crisis, and undertook to promote sound labour practices, create decent work and fight corruption.

South Africa, Turkey cement bilateral ties

South Africa is to work with Turkey to review the high tariffs that the European country charges for goods imported from there. Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan met to explore ways of improving economic relations between the two emerging economies.


Home Affairs success good news for all

The Department of Home Affairs has tabled its Annual Report for the financial year 2010/11 in Parliament where Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma announced that her department had achieved its first unqualified audit in 16 years. The department’s turnaround was widely seen as a creditable illustration of government making good on its quest for clean administration and better service delivery to citizens.

Social development

Plans to train social workers

The Department of Social Development has set aside R256 million for a scholarship programme to train more social workers. Government is  also planning to reach out to retired social workers for their input in training youth in the field of social work. The department also aims to improve remuneration for social professionals to keep them in the country.


Moving towards a technologically advanced justice system

The Department of Justice has introduced a system that will prevent meddling with case files and a backlog of trials. While it previously took hours or days to send documents from one point to another, the system will enable the process to be done in seconds via e-mail, enabling busy judges to access court documents from anywhere.

South African Judge elected to International Tribunal

South African Judge Albert J Hoffmann was elected as Vice-President of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) for the period 2011 to 2014. ITLOS is an intergovernmental organisation established by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.


Government to reward hard working matriculants

The Deputy Minister of Basic Education, Enver Surty, says matriculants who perform well in the upcoming exams, will be rewarded with wonderful bursary opportunities. He said government had wonderful opportunities for learners who would work hard and succeed. Government has set more than a billion rand aside for scholarships.


World Health Organisation (WHO) reports a decline in tuberculosis (TB)

The WHO reports for the first time that the number of people falling ill with TB each year is declining. New data, published in the WHO 2011 Global Tuberculosis Control Report, also show that the number of people dying from the disease fell to its lowest level in a decade.