Address at the Mercosur Summit, Florianopolis,
Brazil, 15 December 2000
Your Excellency, Mr. Chairman
Your Excellencies Presidents
Your Excellencies Ministers
Ladies and Gentlemen
I would like to thank the honourable Heads of Government
who constitute the membership of Mercosur, for this
chance to address you during this Summit.
I would like to stress, at the outset of my brief input
that for us, as South Africans, this is a chance to
ensure that we build and strengthen our strategic alliance.
We thank you for this invitation, which we understand
as both an important message of hope and solidarity
and an opportunity for the developing world to work
together for our own development.
Obviously, we have to ensure that we put into practice
the often-stated idea of active collaboration on matters
of common concern.
We are convinced that the future of our people and
their prospects of a better life depend on the leadership
that we give at this time.
In the many international forums that we all attend,
we have consistently stressed the need for a fundamental
restructuring of the world economic order as a central
condition for the reversal of underdevelopment.
The nature of this restructuring is not an easy matter
and requires of the developed world to accept some of
the burden of this process.
In international fora - such as the Millennium Summit
- the majority of leaders have unequivocally voiced
the fact that many of us have arrived at a determination
that some of the conditions for movement towards this
restructuring of the global economic order are to strengthen
our ties, forge closer links, and harness our resources
in the developing world.
Yet, in reality our progress has been slow and our
collaboration inconsistent. As developing countries
we have to radically restructure our economic relations
and increase economic cooperation, investments and trade
flows between our countries in addition to the existing
historical patterns of economic interaction with the
developed countries of the North.
We now need to focus our attention on critical areas
and act in a concerted and systematic way so as to make
the necessary advancements.
In our view, we should address the following issues.
The first is to act together to negotiate a rebalancing
of the agreements that govern the world trade and international
financial systems. There is a range of areas where the
outcomes of previous multilateral negotiations have
been weighted against the developing countries. This
is not only restrictive of our development but will
soon also be a restraint on the continued growth and
prosperity of the world economy.
For us to advance our cause in the WTO and structures
such as the G20, we will have to have a close and continuous
tactical and strategic interaction. We have no effective
mechanism to achieve this at present. Some of us in
the developing world must engage in a dialogue aimed
at changing this situation.
It is fundamentally in our interests to ensure a new
round of broad based negotiations in the WTO. This will
not happen unless we take initiatives to achieve this
resumption. It is a reality of the present that we are
not likely to see decisive leadership from the developed
countries at this time.
The second area is that which we are all so acutely
aware of, and that is the promotion of economic growth
and development in our own economies. Here the formation
of regional zones of economic cooperation is an essential
component of this complex process.
Clearly, Mercosur has, since its formation, made important
strides as a trading bloc and I am sure that member
states have and continue to derive positive benefits.
I understand that in this meeting you have once again
agreed on very important steps to the further consolidation
of economic integration. This lesson of taking responsibility
for our future is fundamental.
However your success, and ours in South Africa, can
be even greater if we can now start to forge links between
our regional initiatives so as to increase trade and
investment relations between other emerging Regions
in the developing countries.
One such Region is the Southern African Development
Community (SADC). This is a Region that is located in
a continent that is unsurpassed in natural resources
and increasingly beneficiating.
SADC as a whole is currently undergoing far-reaching
economic restructuring that will surely boost the levels
of growth in the Region, more specifically in the industrial
As in the case of Mercosur, which has achieved such
a structural transformation, we are undoubtedly poised
for higher levels of growth. There is therefore an opportunity
for the two Regions to share the benefits of higher
growth through improved investments and trade relations.
It is the realization of this fact that is pulling
The agreement we are about to sign launching a process
of exploring freer trade between our regions is indeed
a historic step in cooperating for the betterment of
the lives of our respective peoples.
Much work remains to be done as we move ahead along
this process. We will now be acting to explore sectoral
opportunities and encourage greater contact and co-operation
between our private sectors.
To succeed, we will have to bring our people with us,
so that they understand the longer term purpose of our
actions. We will have to find innovative ways of increasing
contacts in the fields of business, education and culture,
which must underpin and sustain the closer links that
we seek to build.
Improved relations would also lead to better co-operation
in tackling mutual challenges such as poverty and social
in-equalities. More importantly, we would be better
positioned to negotiate better trade arrangements with
the developed countries and better terms with the multi-lateral
Perhaps we should consider that one of the concrete
outcomes of this historic meeting between Mercosur and
South Africa would be to mandate our Trade Ministers
to find an effective and urgent way of ensuring a new
round in the WTO by the end of 2001 at the latest.
Co-operation would of course go beyond trade and investment
issues. Indeed other issues might include capacity building
in the areas of conflict prevention and resolution,
peacekeeping operations, the reform of international
institutions of governance such as the United Nations.
In our Region, we are working to forge new directions
towards co-operation and development. Judging by your
discussions at this Summit, your processes are matured
and advanced. Clearly, conditions for a long-term partnership
are ripe in both our Regions.
As representatives of millions of people who yearn
for fundamental change and a better life, we should
not lose this great opportunity.
I thank you.