OPENING SPEECH BY DEPUTY PRESIDENT ZUMA AT THE OPENING OF THE 3RD SOUTH AFRICA/GERMANY BINANTIONAL COMMISSION

Your Excellency, Vice Chancellor Fischer
Ministers and Deputy Ministers
Members of the German and South African Delegations
Ladies and Gentlemen

It is indeed a great privilege to, once again, preside jointly with you over the deliberations of the Bi-national Commission between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Republic of South Africa.

Allow me, Mr Vice Chancellor, to express my personal, and the South African Government's appreciation for the constructive spirit of co-operation, which has marked the preparations for the third meeting of this important bilateral mechanism. Indeed this has been the case in all our previous meetings.

Please also accept our gratitude for the warm hospitality accorded to myself, and the South African delegation, since our arrival in this historic city of Berlin.

Mr Vice Chancellor, it is a pleasure to state that the bilateral relations between our two countries are indeed very sound. The warm friendship between our two countries were very evident during the constructive meetings held by your President Rau and Chancellor Schroeder with President Mbeki last week.

In fact, the President informed me upon his return of the positive outcome of his discussions with the German leadership. It is clear to us that Germany is indeed a friend of the African continent.

Your commitment to stability, progress and sustainable development, on the basis of an equal and constructive partnership, is highly valued.

Your support in principle for the Millennium Africa Recovery Plan (MAP) is most encouraging, particularly because we view MAP as a comprehensive global plan of action to tackle poverty and address the developmental needs of Africa as a whole.

A new generation of democratic and progressive African leaders, committed to the vision of a revival of Africa, has emerged and is determined to eradicate the evils of poverty and underdevelopment. Thus the eradication of poverty and underdevelopment lies at the heart of the MAP initiative and this can only be achieved and sustained if people are put first.

We trust that our endeavours as Africa, bolstered by the commitment of forward-looking industrialised countries and multilateral institutions, will provide the very necessary debt relief, open their markets to African products, invest in the continent's future, share technologies and contribute to peace-keeping initiatives.

We are happy that we can count on your country in fulfilling our vision to make the 21st century, the African Century. Mr Vice-Chancellor, since our last meeting in Pretoria, in March 2000, South Africa has continued to make steady progress in the consolidation of our young democracy, politically, economically and socially. Our work to address the legacy of our past as well as the pressing social needs of our people remains on track.

Our commitment to democracy, good governance, peace and stability, the culture of transparency and our stance against corruption, as well as our well thought out and strategic initiatives have made a constructive impact in our country.

Germany's ongoing support in our endeavours to build a prosperous and stable South Africa is therefore highly appreciated. We therefore place high value on this Bi-National Commission has proved to be an effective tool to deepen the co-operation between our two countries in a number of key areas.

For South Africa, this Bi-national Commission forms part of our determined efforts in our young democracy to take charge of our destiny. As South Africans, and Africans, we seek to integrate ourselves ever more fully within the rapidly globalising world economy and we need strategic partners such as Germany, to achieve higher levels of growth and employment and increase the international competitiveness of our economy.

Mr Vice Chancellor, please allow me to make brief comments on the activities of the committees:

Development co-operation:

Germany's continuous and active development co-operation support to South Africa, since 1994, amounting to 481 million Deutsche Mark, split almost evenly between Financial and Technical co-operation, illustrates Germany's commitment and constructive support for the development needs of South Africa. We are therefore, looking forward to a strengthened partnership in the areas of:

Community development.
Public administration and decentralisation.
Education, especially vocational and basic education, and
Business and employment, primarily in the Small and Micro Enterprises sector as well as,
Strengthened regional co-operation in combating the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
The focus of Germany on particularly disadvantaged provinces and communities, is also much appreciated. We look forward to seeing this co-operation continuing to draw on South African policies and priorities, and to even better, streamlined and focused interventions. We hope that this much welcomed development co-operation programme, will fit into our existing Integrated Rural Development and Urban Renewal programmes.

Economic relations:

Germany maintains its position as one of South Africa's largest trading partners. Although we are encouraged by the more than 20 percent growth in two-way trade, which amounted to over 41 billion South African Rand in 2000, imports from South African still only amount to around one percent of overall German imports, making the Balance of Trade very much in Germany's favour. More than 450 German companies have already been established in South Africa, providing more than 60 000 jobs and bringing German investments up to more than 20 billion randy.

There is scope for greater investment by German companies as most sectors we have identified for investment and export promotion, match those in which German industry has shown strengths. These include automotives, information technology, communication, chemicals, agro-processing and tourism.

Priority should also be given to the participation of German companies in the small and medium sized enterprise sectors in South Africa, specifically in agro-processing and tourism which have the greatest potential for much needed job creation. In this regard, the facilitation of co-operation agreements between South Africa and German organisations should be further explored. We are pleased that Germany has begun to take steps to ratify the Agreement between South Africa and the European Union on Trade and Development Co-operation.

We view the agreement as an important instrument that we need to start using, to further trade and investment links between our two countries. We look forward to this process being finalised. Mr Vice Chancellor, I also believe that it is important for us to maintain dialogue on multilateral trade issues, in particular on the World Trade Organisation WTO), and its forthcoming Conference in Qatar in November. We believe that the WTO is vital to increased global trade and economic growth, from which all countries stand to benefit.

Germany can play an important part in ensuring that a new round of global trade negotiations is launched in the November meeting. In particular, it is important that the interest of developing countries receives priority attention in future WTO negotiations. It is my view that the WTO is one of the key organisations to address the concerns of the developing countries with regard to the two possible extremes of concentrated, high development on the one hand and extreme poverty on the other.

Tourism

On the Tourism front, Germany remains one of the leading overseas tourism markets for South Africa, and is one of the six countries on which we are focusing our tourism marketing drive. We know that the unique natural and cultural heritage of South Africa has enormous relevance and appeal to Germany's citizens - an appeal that has not yet been fully exploited. We would like to deepen this relationship between the citizens of our countries, and we would value Germany's support and guidance in this exercise.

Tourism is a critical growth sector in the South African economy, with many new investment opportunities opening up in eco-tourism. The recently tendered investment sites in the Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park and along the Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape Province, amongst others, are excellent examples of the quality of investment opportunities that exist in our tourism sector.

Science & Technology

Since the signing of the South African-German Science and Technology Agreement in 1995, and the signing of the Agreement between the "German Research Association" (GRF) and the South African "National Research Foundation" (NRF) in December 1999, excellent relations in the field of science and technology have been established between our respective scientific communities. The number of joint scientific projects between our countries and increasing continuously and we are encouraged by the good progress that has been made in the exchange of expertise and transfer of technology that have taken place through innovative partnerships.

In the globalised environment in which we find ourselves today, no country can afford not to share in the benefits of new scientific and technological developments. We would like to encourage the German scientific community to get involved in our region.

This will not only allow South Africa access to the benefits of high-tech developments, but it will also provide German scientists access to a unique research environment and countless opportunities on which to focus their research initiatives.

We are appreciative of the willingness shown by Germany to involve, in joint projects, research facilities at historically disadvantaged research institutions. Failure to involve these institutions is bound to weaken the impact of our co-operation given the Human Resource Developments needs in our country. We also see enormous opportunities in collaborating around our Antarctic research programmes. South Africa has many years of experience in managing a very professional Antarctic programme, and is keen to offer Germany its services as a "gateway" to Antarctica, with regard to scientific research.

Defence

Defence co-operation between our two countries is well on track and vibrant and we trust that this will develop and expand substantially during 2001 and beyond. The existing strategic partnership will form the basis of all future co-operation and also render support for regional initiatives.

The agreements we have thus far concluded are a testimony of our strong relationship in the area of defence and the commencement of construction of the patrol Corvette is testimony to this. We look forward to the completion of the construction of the first submarine, whose first hull section was completed last month in Kiel.

Environment

The dialogue between South Africa and Germany on the environment and sustainable development has deepened significantly since we started the Bi-national Commission. This is due, in large part, to the personal involvement and close interaction between our Environment Ministers.

The presence of our Minister for Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Mr Valli Moosa, here reflects the importance that South Africa attaches to its co-operation with Germany in this field. We believe that the participation of more line function ministers will enhance the work of our BNC and this is an issue I would like to place on the table for future discussion.

Minister Moosa and his counterpart, Mr Trittin will be having discussions covering a wide range of issues, with particular focus on the important World Conference on Sustainable Development, to be held in Johannesburg in 2002.

This Conference is a unique opportunity for us to deepen our partnership this area and on sustainable development/We have a global leadership responsibility to make the ten-year review of Agenda 21 realise its full potential, and take bold steps towards a more sustainable global economy.

We need your support to ensure that this conference is a success. German industry is a world-leader in areas such as energy efficiency and renewables. We would therefore appreciate your support in terms of showcasing these leading industrial and sustainable development technologies at the Summit.

Culture

Given the rich and varied cultural heritage of our two countries, it is imperative that we actively enhance and promote academic, scientific and student exchanges between our two countries. It is also important that we continue to exchange knowledge and experience in the field of arts, education, museums, language training, archive management, and the active exchange of artists and performers.

I am encouraged that through the work of the Committee on Culture, the South African artistic and cultural community will benefit from the skills and expertise that Germany has to offer. This can only serve to deepen the levels of understanding and friendship of our peoples.

Mr Vice Chancellor, if South Africa is to develop into a competitive player in the global market, we need to become increasingly self-reliant. Thus the area of Human Resource Development, to expand our skills base, demands urgent attention. In this regard we might need to pursue a discussion, which might lead to the establishment of a committee to deal with this specific area of work, which is a critical element of our development.

A concerted focus on Human Resource Development will enhance South Africa's ability to address the shortcomings that have resulted from its past. Without much needed, dedicated resources however, work in this area cannot be taken forward at the pace that we would like it to be.

We therefore hope that Human Resource Development will be given special attention by all the committees and that, over the next day or two, we will deliberate on how we can advance South Africa's strategic needs in this regard, in a co-ordinated and cohesive manner.

Due to the difference in approach in terms of the way the German and South African safety and security establishments are structured, it has not been possible to formalise ties between the two countries in this field within the framework of the Bi-national Commission.

The fact that certain German security-related and border control competencies have been centralised within the context of the European Union, have added to the complexities of establishing such an additional joint committee.

However, good relations and co-operation already exist between our countries in this area and we have witnessed no less than two high level visits of South African safety and security delegations to Germany this year.

Mr Vice-Chancellor, I wish to reaffirm that it is indeed a pleasure for me and my delegation to be in Berlin - to take our co-operation in the various committees forward, in a practical and results-based manner, thereby further enhancing the constructive partnership and synergies between our two countries.

I would like also to thank all the officials from both sides for a job well done. We therefore look forward to constructive and productive discussions over the next two days, which could add further value and content to this valuable bilateral mechanism, to the mutual benefit of both our countries.


Quick Links

Disclaimer | Contact Us | HomeLast Updated: 2 September, 2004 12:19 PM
This site is best viewed using 800 x 600 resolution with Internet Explorer 5.0, Netscape Communicator 4.5 or higher.
2003 Department of Foreign Affairs, Republic of South Africa