Address by Minister Dlamini Zuma at the Opening Session of the Joint Commission Between South Africa - Brazil, Pretoria 7 May 2003

Honourable Minister Dr Amorim

Your Excellencies Ambassadors

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

Mr Minister, it gives me pleasure, and it is a privilege and an honour to extend a warm welcome to you and your entire delegation to South Africa, on the occasion of the Second Meeting of the Joint Commission between Brazil and South Africa.

I recall with warmth the inauguration of President Lula on the 1st of January this year. In his dispassionate and strong "lets get to work" message, he was unambiguous and yet bold about the urgency of establishing a hard-work ethic and a culture of focus and dedication in approaching government tasks. It therefore comes as no surprise that even on the occasion of your visit to our country, Minister, your program is fully occupied. Every minute is taken up and your visit also extends to a number of African countries. This once again is reflective of President Lula’s unwavering commitment to re-energising relations between Brazil and Africa. Your visit, signals the desire not to be grand standing about an African commitment, but to rather ensure a qualitative and symbiotic relationship of common vision and trust in our bilateral and multilateral relationship. We are inspired by your urgency in dealing with issues of commonality between us.

Mr Minister, our meeting of the 2nd of January this year and subsequent discussions identified several important dimensions of our relationship. Amongst others, we thought it prudent that the bi-national commission be provided with a unifying and common vision. We noted the wisdom and natural consequent outcome which would lead to the deepening of the level of our engagement. To this end, Mr Minister, the issue was that both our Presidents share a passion for ridding our communities, and indeed the world, of hunger, ignorance, poverty and disease.

Our principals both seek to order a society in which there would be unhindered development of our citizenry towards the attainment of higher levels of human achievement and where they would be free of prejudice. This ideal, is not only noble, but joins us in an array of commitments and outlooks that are common to us. Our transitional societies, both young democracies, seek to empower all persons in our communities.

In the limited space of time since President Lula assumed the leadership of Brazil, we have watched, and observed with admiration, the progress that is being made, including in the empowerment of that society, in areas of co-operative governance, such as the launch of the Social and Economic Council, a structure akin to our Nedlac. We have witnessed the birth of the Commission against Racial Discrimination and Promotion of Equality; the establishment of the Special Secretariat of Politics for Women, with a view to redressing the marginalisation of women. It has therefore been a particular pleasure to have arranged a program for Madam Maria Pinheiro and Ms Magali Naves to meet with the Gender Commission and other institutions. We trust that this is the beginning of a long-term relationship as an element of our strategic partnership.

Our common vision is that we will build a mutually reinforcing relationship that is based on exchanges of views and experiences. Most of the challenges you face in your country are issues that we also have to do battle with. Your "Projecto Moradia", intended to drive down prices for the provision of houses, encourage municipalities to formulate an integrated policy towards community housing needs and the Action Plan, mirrors our own challenges in providing for decent yet affordable housing.

On the trade side our leaders and principals have committed themselves to the principle of evolving a new and vibrant view of global trade. They have identified that it will be necessary for us to revisit the vertical North–South colonially inspired trade routes. A horizontal axis of South-South commercial trade routes is indispensable for the balance of trade flows. In your meeting last night, with our colleague, Minister Erwin of Trade and Industry, our bilateral trade flows would obviously have featured. Whilst acknowledging that the past nine years have seen a steady growth of trade, which now stands at $700 million, the challenge, which needs imagination to deal with, is how to exploit the obvious potential for growth in trade. We have to seek solutions on how we can diversify our trade and seek high value exports to exchange. We also have to identify investment opportunities of strategic benefit to our business people. The automobile sector as the shining example of commercial trade, has scope for even further growth and we are encouraged by the buoyant activity we have noted in this area. We must, however, see to it that we triple the Marcopolos and the Anglo Golds, and seek more opportunities between each other.

We are of course encouraged by the fact that tourism continues to be on the rise. In a period of four years frequencies between our countries will increase from one to five by the middle of June. Further negotiations towards a daily service are also underway.

It is my belief Minister, that the ongoing negotiations between SACU and MERCOSUR, will soon be concluded, providing better market access to our economies, thus extending trade flows and increasing goods traffic between ourselves.

Honourable Minister, our common vision of how better we can empower our communities must be held high for all to see. We must seek solutions on how to ensure meaningful participation of women in the reconstruction of our nascent democratic societies. We must evolve measures on how to establish anti-racist societies and give meaning to the Durban Declaration, which Brazil helped formulate back in 2001. We desire a relationship that shall have regard for one another. It should transcend the technocratic approaches of simply producing agreements, but also develop systems that will inspire policy development and the sharing of conceptual frameworks in addressing the challenges of our communities.

To this end therefore we shall continue to encourage co-operation between our legislators. We are desirous to see members of parliament promote dialogue and exchange, be it in a South Africa/Brazil parliamentary forum, or through visits to one another, or a combination of such arrangements they may deem fit. We think that these exchanges have immeasurable value and benefit to one another.

Our vision is to create a forum parallel to this Commission to allow for the participation of members of civil society. This would enable continuous exchanges of academics and promotion of intellectual debate about our societies and the world. We must ensure that institutions of higher learning and research engage with one another on a continuous and ongoing basis.

We must tell the Focal Point, which started meeting yesterday, that theirs was not simply an obligatory assignment, but rather that they have the burden of thinking outside the box and being imaginative. They should understand that their challenge is to establish mechanisms on how we can pool our resources and deal with our common problems, whether these problems are in the area of science and technology, health, defence, minerals and energy, the combating of drugs and narcotics trafficking or, for that matter, how to ensure higher literacy rates and transformation of our skills base. The Officials charged with the negotiations must understand that this common vision we seek to foster, is not a short-term measure, but rather a long-term marriage we are committing to. Building on a number of existing agreements amongst others. These are on:

Technical Co-operation Agreement
Bilateral Co-operation Agreement on Mutual assistance in the field of combating Illicit Trafficking in Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances and Related Maters
Bilateral Air Services Agreement
Exchange of Notes for the reciprocal lifting of visas for ordinary passport holders for holiday and business visits for a period not exceeding 90 days and transits
Exchange on Notes on Double Taxation of Profits derived form Shipping and Aviation

Dear Colleague, this common vision is also a legacy of long term co-operation in the multilateral forums. We have acted in unison on many issues of international and multilateral interest. In the WTO we have together defended the integrity of a balanced, rules-based multilateral trade institution.

Of course, little progress has been recorded in this area, which points to the challenge of seeking innovative measures to provide for these mandates to be realised. There is a plethora of issues that require further attention.

Our challenge is formidable. The task is huge. The areas are vast and diverse; they include the reform of the UNSC and the defence of the integrity of a multilateral system. We must strengthen our common vision as evidenced in the recent global challenges to global peace and security. Our unwavering position on Iraq inspires hope of a high level co-operation in being active participants in securing world peace and sustainable security. Our desire for peace is what justifies and promotes our interest in Angola, Venezuela, DRC, the Middle East and other hotspots. We deserve a safer and more stable world and therefore I am certain that we will evolve perspectives as well as actively work towards achieving such a world.

Mr Minister, as we charge our officials with their various tasks, we look forward at the end of this Commission to seeing the results of their work which will take forward the implementation of our joint vision and the strengthening of the strategic partnership between our two countries of the South.

Honourable Colleague, let me concluded by taking this opportunity to express South Africa’s heartfelt gratitude for the enthusiasm that Brazil and President Lula in particular has shown to the NEPAD program of action. We applaud your stance on seeking to build relations as equal partners with Africa. We are delighted that the two-year partnership between the African Group of Ambassadors based in Brasilia and the Itamarati, Africa and Middle East Department, has finally resulted in this upcoming historic Africa-Brazil Forum to be held in Fortaleza Ccara in June this year. We trust that the Forum will produce quality discussions that shall inform sustainable foreign policy perspectives for all of us. I trust we shall see you again soon.

I take this opportunity to officially declare the 2nd Joint Commission open and trust that we shall look back on the outcome of our consultations as a source of inspiration in defining our relationship now and in the future.

Mr Minister welcome, enjoy South Africa, and I now invite you to address the meeting.

Thank you.

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2003 Department of Foreign Affairs, Republic of South Africa