CLOSING REMARKS BY DEPUTY PRESIDENT
ZUMA AT THE ACP TRADE MINISTERS COMMITTEE WORKSHOP
Secretary General of the ACP
Ladies and Gentlemen
The significance of this occasion cannot be overestimated.
It signifies the determination of developing countries
to take their place as meaningful players in the global
economy and in global issues.
Your meeting takes place at a time when new information
and communication technologies are further widening
the divide between developing and developed countries;
when the process of globalisation is further perpetuating
the marginalisation of developing countries that started
at the end of the second World War by the GATT process.
It is encouraging that we are organising ourselves,
not only as Africa-Caribbean-Pacific Countries, but
also as members of the developing community in our various
formations. In this regard an exchange of views on negotiation
experiences such as this one is long overdue.
We strongly believe that trade flows and sound trade
policies are a crucial aspect of economic development.
They play a central role in stimulating economic growth,
integration, regional economic co-operation and political
The ACP and the European Union have been partners in
development for more than 25 years, but in 8 years that
will change to a relationship dominated by economic
and trade issues. Therefore we must prepare ourselves
for a new relationship with our partners in the developed
world, that moves from a developmental partnership to
one that is dominated by economic and trade issues.
I have noted that in your deliberations you concluded
that lack of capacity is a major limitation to our ability
to engage our partners meaningfully. I believe that
this workshop is the beginning of the capacity building
process. You must therefore not lose the momentum that
has been gathering since the beginning of your workshop.
As we conclude this workshop it is quite clear that
a lot of work remains to be done in identifying key
areas of need and to design the means of building this
much needed capacity to ensure sustainable results.
Central to the success of this is the need to create
an environment in our various countries that is conducive
to trade. We need to ensure capacity, not only as it
relates to our ability to negotiate with our EU partners,
but also in the various social institutions that contribute
to a stable environment. These would include, amongst
others, a well functioning judicial system, stable financial
institutions and so on. These institutions are important
to attract foreign investment.
Our own experience in South Africa has taught us that
private-public sector co-operation contributes positively
to the creation of that environment and this is an area
that we might all want to look at. These institutions
help to strengthen society and are a necessary condition
to a stable environment that is able to attract foreign
investment and trade.
It is important to recognise however that this merely
lays the foundation and does not automatically translate
into an avalanche of investment. South Africa has very
strong economic fundamentals, a fact that is admitted
to by various countries and rating agencies, but we
still do not get enough foreign direct investment because
of factors such as negative perceptions.
It is clear that as part of our capacity building exercise
we need to pay special attention to our capacity to
market our countries and counter these negative perceptions.
Crucial to achieving all this is the availability of
financial resources. I therefore believe that a priority
area in the interim is to make use of the resources
available under the various European Development Funds.
I have been informed that accessing these funds is
not an easy and simple task. It is precisely for this
reason that Ministers must strategies on how to create
mechanisms to unlock these funds.
As developing countries, most of us are faced with
a problem of relatively small domestic markets that
would affect our ability to attract foreign investment
and trade in a meaningful way. Thus I would hope that
regional integration remains a central focus in our
deliberations and strategies.
A major challenge in this regard is how to utilise
available resources to create strong regional institutions
that allow us to increase trade amongst ourselves first
thus boosting confidence in each other's economies and
creating a stronger trading bloc.
For example it is important that we conclude and implement
the SADC Protocol quicker than our agreement with the
EU. The problems we have faced in this regard have related
to the limitations of capacity and the heterogeneous
nature of SADC countries that makes it difficult for
us to find common ground.
Thus it is important for the 77 ACP member countries
to find this common ground, as failure to do so will
render us vulnerable to being played one against the
other. While it is important for each country to define
its own development objectives it is equally important
that these should fit in within a common regional framework.
Furthermore, we have a responsibility to guard against
disintegration of the ACP group of states. We may negotiate
as regions; individual countries or any other fora that
would serve our interests best but these negotiations
must not be at the expense of a united African- Caribbean-Pacific
Group of States.
Over the coming few years the ACP will be negotiating
on various fronts, at the multilateral level, with the
EU and maybe at regional level. The priority negotiations
however are likely to be at the multilateral level.
This most certainly will be the case for the EU.
Thus it is important that we should not make the same
mistakes we made in the past. We should ensure that
our concerns as the developing world are taken on board
at the WTO for instance.
Multilateral rules offer the scope for broadening market
access and provide the least risk for trade diversion
as all countries, and regions, must abide by WTO rules.
Your agenda included a discussion on trade related issues,
such as rules of origin, standards and others. These
are the new forms of protectionism.
Of course I do not have to tell that to Trade Ministers,
as you are experts in this area. I do however want to
say that it is very important that you continue discussions
on such technical issues. If not, those who have the
ability to do so will decide matters for us. Technical
competence will help to ensure that agreements between
the EU and ACP states will be defensible at the WTO.
Having said the above, I would like to take this opportunity
to talk briefly about conflicts, particularly in Africa.
Discussions of this nature would not be complete without
us paying some attention to the issue of poverty and
Poverty and underdevelopment in our countries are escalating
due to preventable wars and conflicts. This means we
must renew our commitment to a partnership that will
create conditions of peace, stability and good governance.
Thus the issue must always be an important part of our
These wars, in addition to bringing poverty and displacement,
deny us the opportunity to develop important areas for
development, such as basic infrastructure, which is
almost at zero level in some of our countries.
It will be impossible to attract foreign direct investment
without infrastructure such as efficient communication
systems, road-rail-air and navigation systems as well
as properly functioning financial systems.
In conclusion we would like to emphasise the need for
us to ensure that we have not merely engage in yet another
talk over the past two days. From this workshop must
emerge concrete resolutions accompanied by an implementable
programme of action.
I thank you.