Asian-African Sub-Regional Organisations
Conference (AASROC) Ministerial Working Group Meeting,
Durban, South Africa, 24 March 2004
We, the Foreign Ministers of the Republic of South
Africa and the Republic of Indonesia, had the honour
to co-chair the first Asian-African Sub-Regional Organisations
(AASROC) Working Group Meeting in Durban on 24 March
2004. The Meeting was attended by delegates from 19
countries and the representatives from 10 sub-regional
/ international organisations.
THE MEETING RECALLED:
a. that the Governments of Indonesia and South Africa
co-hosted the First Asian-African Sub-Regional Organisations
Conference (AASROC I) in Bandung, Indonesia, in order
to revive the spirit of cooperation between the two
continents. Inspired by the Spirit of Bandung
of the 1955 Asia-Africa Conference, the two-day Conference
had as its theme: Towards a New Strategic Partnership
between Asia and Africa;
b. that AASROC I considered ways and means by which
the peoples of the two continents could achieve full
economic, cultural, social and political cooperation,
and address global challenges facing both continents;
c. that the African Union adopted the New Partnership
for Africas Development (NEPAD) as its programme
for poverty eradication, socio-economic development
and growth; that the African Regional Economic Communities
have a critical role to play in the implementation of
the NEPAD programme; that the UN in November 2002 accepted
NEPAD as the framework for engagement with Africa; and
that the international community and the United Nations
have committed themselves to support the implementation
d. that AASROC I recognised the need to actively pursue
a common view and collective action to ensure a more
equitable sharing of the benefits of globalisation by
countries in Asia and Africa; the need for Asia and
Africa to support and strengthen multilateralism as
a means to effectively addressing global issues; and
the importance of regional and sub-regional organisations
as building blocks to further strengthen multilateral
e. that AASROC I expressed support for the establishment
of a New Strategic Partnership between the two continents,
incorporating existing initiatives, exchanges of experience
and best practices among countries and sub-regional
and regional organisations in Asia and Africa;
THE MEETING CONFIRMED THAT:
f. AASROC I identified the following as underlying
principles in the development of a New Strategic Partnership:
- The Ten Principles of Bandung (Dasa Sila Bandung)
adopted at the 1955 Asian-African Conference.
- Recognition of diversity between and within regions,
including different social and economic systems and
levels of development.
- The Asian-African New Strategic Partnership centres
on Asian and African ownership based on a common vision,
an equal partnership and a firm and shared conviction.
- Commitment to open dialogue based on mutual respect
- Cooperation where there is scope for common interest
and mutual benefit.
- Efforts to strengthen, complement and build upon
existing regional and sub-regional organisations
initiatives in both regions.
- Cooperation should be practical and based on comparative
advantage and mutual strength.
THE MEETING FOCUSSED ON THE FOLLOWING THREE TOPICS
DURING ITS DELIBERATIONS:
· Contribution of Asian-African Sub-Regional
Organisations towards a New Strategic Partnership
· Structures for Cooperation
· Levels, time frames and composition of dialogue
on the areas of cooperation identified by AASROC I.
ARISING FROM THESE DISCUSSIONS, THE FOLLOWING ELEMENTS
CONSTITUTE THE AGREED OUTCOMES OF THE MEETING:
Firstly, three broad areas of cooperation were identified,
· Economic; and
· Social and Cultural.
These areas of cooperation must be developed within
the context of the environment of globalisation and
AASROC must focus on practical, achievable, concrete
areas where the initiative can add value as a process
in a pragmatic fashion.
In this regard, it was agreed that economic issues,
trade, investment and human resource development are
the areas of primary focus of the New Strategic Partnership.
Recognising the pivotal role to be played by the private
sector in this regard, the meeting decided to create
an Asia-Africa Business Forum, to run on its own steam
once established. The Forum should focus on exploring
business opportunities, promoting trade and investment
and generating the required resources.
The meeting identified the need to streamline and align
existing initiatives for coherence and maximum benefit
and to avoid duplication, ie AASROC with TICAD, Sino-Africa,
India-Africa, the Langkawi International Dialogue and
the Smart Partnership Initiative.
As regards structural arrangements, three tiers of
Asian-African interaction were identified, namely:
· Inter-Governmental Forum
· Sub-regional Organisations
· People-to People interaction (Business, academia,
In this regard, it was agreed that there should be
an Asia-Africa Summit level meeting once every 4 years.
Asia-Africa Ministers will meet every two years, while
sectoral Ministers (such as Agriculture, Health, Trade,
Finance, ICT etc.) will meet as required. Expert Working
Groups/Sectoral Committee meetings at Ministerial level
if necessary and, where possible, on the margins of
existing technical meetings in order to limit expenses
and time spent away from capitals, will be held as required.
In order to afford the peoples of Asia and Africa the
opportunity to meaningfully engage with each other to
foster closer cooperation, arrangements will be made
to facilitate interaction between civil society stakeholders
in Africa and Asia, including the business sector interaction
described above, representatives from youth, gender,
religious, civic, disabled, cultural, labour and professional
representative organisations, academics, scholars, think-tanks
and other research institutions.
The pivotal role of the respective Regional and Sub-Regional
Organisations was emphasised. They should meet on an
annual basis to allow for an exchange of best practices
in conjunction with key donors, project managers and
investors. The AU will serve as a coordinating focal
point for the African RECs in this process. The ASEAN
Secretariat and the SADC Secretariat will coordinate
the organisation of the first Regional and Sub-regional
The meeting identified various studies that are to
be compiled by various countries/organisations of Asia
and Africa as follows.
· The need for the media to play a role in informing
the countries that make up AASROC about each others
societies. It was proposed that visits be undertaken
by the media of the respective countries in the run
up to the Summit in Bandung.
· With regard to the agreement on the need for
an Asian-African Business Forum, Japan, Indonesia, Mozambique,
Uganda, Egypt, South Africa and the EAC were tasked
with examining practical steps to launch the agreed
Asian-African Business Forum. This includes examining
how to synchronise existing business interactions and
to ensure that there is cooperation to strengthen business
ties, for example, the Africa-Asia Business Forum under
TICAD and the TICAD Asia-Africa Trade and Investment
· Ghana was identified to lead a study on commodities
and their role in trade and subsequent development patterns.
· Mozambique, China, Japan, Ghana, EAC and SADC
were tasked with collating information for AASROC II
regarding all existing initiatives. In this regard,
India offered to provide a comprehensive guide to its
involvement with Africa, including NEPAD, dialogue with
the African Union, SADC, and other RECs and the T-9
initiative with countries of West Africa.
· In respect of culture, it was suggested that
member countries identify institutions in Africa and
Asia to promote cultural exchange.
· Egypt together with India and possibly Malaysia
are to lead a study of institutions of excellence, including
universities, think tanks and other centres of excellence.
· A paper is to be prepared by the ASEAN Secretariat
to provide a guide as to what the critical elements
were that allowed certain countries in Asia to develop
rapidly. This would be useful as a way of sharing experiences/information
to assist African countries in their efforts to fast
track the process of economic growth.
· The meeting acknowledged that there is insufficient
knowledge regarding each other in Asia and Africa. Therefore,
it was decided that South Africa, Indonesia, Morocco
and other volunteer countries would prepare a study
paper for the AASROC II meeting in August 2004 regarding:
- What is the current situation pertaining to economic
interaction, trade and investment between Africa and
- What are the barriers to improved cooperation and
interaction and how do we deal with them?
- What are the opportunities and comparative advantages
· Tanzania provided the meeting with a study
entitled A Fair Globalisation Creating
Opportunities For All commissioned by the ILO.
Finally, it was agreed that Indonesia and South Africa
should continue to coordinate the preparation process
until the 2005 Summit in Bandung, Indonesia.