Priorities of the South African Government regarding Globalisation
FOR WRITTEN REPLY
QUESTION NO: 1243
PUBLISHED IN INTERNAL QUESTION PAPER NO 25 OF 23 AUGUST 2007
Mr A.J. Leon (DA) to ask the Minister of Foreign Affairs:
1. Whether Government has any priorities regarding globalisation, if not, why not, if so, what are
2. In terms of document “Overview of South Africa’s Foreign Policy”:
(a) What does government mean by the statement “the path of globalisation must change” and
(b) How does Government intend changing the path of globalisation? NW1719E
In the era of unprecedented globalisation, from which the continent of Africa and other countries of the South have generally benefited little, Government has identified several priorities in the form of some basic challenges that must be addressed. The following is a non-exhaustive list:
The fight against poverty, unemployment and underdevelopment;
The fight for peace, security and stability;
Restructuring the global balance of power;
The fight against terrorism;
The promotion of sustainable environmental practices;
Good governance and democracy;
The fight against transmissible diseases; and
Restructuring global governance.
South Africa endorses the perspective that holds that the current path of globalisation must change. By this is meant that too few share in its benefits – and unequally at that – and something has to be done to change the situation. The benefits of globalization can and must be extended to more people and better shared between and within countries, with many more voices having an influence on its course. As a country committed to economic and social justice, South Africa is of the opinion that the benefits of globalisation should be expanded and that the means and resources needed to create a better world for all are indeed available.
Consequently, South Africa will continue to actively engage with the international community, most especially with the fellow developing countries of the South, to develop effective means to address the many challenges in realizing our collective objective of creating a better life for all of our peoples. Some of the initiatives and processes aimed at changing the path of globalization in which South Africa is actively involved are briefly discussed below:
South-South Co-operation has expanded in response to the global challenges faced by developing countries. Strengthening South-South Co-operation, as a complement to North-South Co-operation, has helped create a stronger voice for the countries of the South in multilateral fora. The modalities of increased and expanded South-South Co-operation have become an integral part of the mutual relations between the developing countries and an important means of promoting the exchange of information, best practices, research, technological advances, skills development and expertise across a wide range of sectors. South Africa will therefore continue its active participation in the various groupings of the South to which it is a party, such as, for example, the Group of 77 (G77) and China, the Non-aligned Movement (NAM), the India Brazil South Africa Dialogue Forum (IBSA) and the New Asian-African Strategic Partnership (NAASP).
South Africa will continue to call for greater efforts by all, especially by the developed countries of the North, to attain the objectives, goals and programmes agreed to at the Millennium Summit. The attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the implementation of the programmes that emerged out of the World Conference against Racism Xenophobia and Related Intolerances, the World Food Summit, the United Nations International Conference on Financing for Development and the World Summit for Sustainable Development are also all central to addressing the challenge of the development agenda of the countries of the South. These meetings have provided clear strategies for advancing the sustainable development process. What remains is to ensure the implementation of the commitments that have been made. In this regard, there is an urgent need to translate these commitments into concrete action, in particular in the areas of financing for development and poverty eradication.
South Africa will continue to participate in efforts to promote the global partnership for development and ensure that commitments made are honoured. In particular, whilst recognizing the important role of ODA in providing developing countries with the means to achieve development goals, it is recognised that this is not an end to itself, but a means to an end. The ODA contribution in developing countries is a critical catalyst for development. South Africa will therefore continue to promote calls for development partners to meet the official UN target for ODA, which was set in 1970, of 0.7% of Gross National Product (GNP).
The Monterrey Consensus on Financing for Development is fundamental to international co-operation for development. Maintaining and strengthening the political momentum on development issues is important for South Africa, to ensure that the international community should focus on implementation, including on how to transfer the critically needed resources to developing countries which the donor community has already committed. South Africa will support and participate in the Follow-up International Conference on Financing for Development to be held in Doha, Qatar, in the second half of 2008. The conference should, as a matter of top priority address national, international and systemic issues relating to financing for development in a holistic and integrated manner.
South Africa will continue to participate in various initiatives for the development of innovative sources of new financing for development, for example, the Action Against Hunger and Poverty Initiative and its core group, the Leading Group on Solidarity Levies to Fund Development (LGSL). South Africa also recently joined UNITAID, an International Drug Purchase Facility, which helps scale up access to drugs and diagnostics to fight AIDS, Malaria, and Tuberculosis for people who need them most in developing countries.
Debt relief is a vital component within the package of measures that are required to achieve the MDGs and to integrate many African countries and other developing countries into the global economy. The slow pace of debt relief and the insufficient level of resources remain a critical obstacle in this process. Without predictable debt relief, many developing countries face continued uncertainty regarding donors’ commitments and their own ability to finance public programs while maintaining macroeconomic stability. Debt sustainability can only be achieved and maintained if the underlying causes of the debt problem are addressed. South Africa will therefore continue to lend its voice to calls for further debt cancellation initiatives.
The imbalance in the decision and policymaking processes of the global trade, economic and financial institutions continue to weaken the world’s response to poverty and underdevelopment. In particular, there must be greater participation of developing countries in international economic decision-making and norm setting processes of the Bretton Woods Institutions. Africa has been effectively marginalised from the policy-making of the most powerful financial institutions, whose policy direction and decision-making processes probably affect them most. South Africa will therefore continue to participate in fora such as the G20 and be at the forefront in promoting efforts to reform the Bretton Woods Institutions and to increase the “voice” and level of participation of developing countries in these and other economic and financial global governance institutions. T he current global economic realities make these reforms all the more urgent.
Market access is also a fundamental issue in the context of global efforts to achieve the MDGs. The current international trade system is full of inequities. The lack of progress made in the context of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Doha Development Round of negotiations is both disappointing and a cause for very serious concern. South Africa will therefore continue to emphasize the need for the Doha Development Round to meaningfully address the needs of developing countries and participate in negotiations that will hopefully bring the Round to completion as soon as possible.
In order to meet the development needs of Africa, African leaders have pledged that Africans should possess their own future and development agenda. This is what has contributed to the establishment of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), the economic programme of the African Union (AU), as a pledge by African leaders to place their countries on a path of sustainable growth and development and to participate actively in the world economy in order to extricate the continent from the malaise of underdevelopment and exclusion in a globalising world. South Africa will continue to promote the NEPAD and its programmes.
Many stakeholders are engaged in the realization of global social and economic goals - international organizations, governments and parliaments, business, labour, civil society and many others. Dialogue and partnership among them is an essential democratic instrument to create a better world. For this reason, South Africa will participate in processes that seek to devise better instruments for the governance of globalization and the functioning of the multilateral system.
South Africa is also addressing the skewed impact of globalization at the national level. Government has put in place the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (ASGISA) in an effort to grow the so-called Second Economy and to ratchet up economic growth in a bid to half unemployment and poverty in the country by 2014, the completion of the second decade of our democracy. Government has also championed the Joint Initiative on Priority Skills Acquisition (JIPSA) to develop the skills that are most urgently needed.