Opening Remarks by Mr. Aziz Pahad, Deputy
Minster of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of South
Africa On the Occasion of the Second Asian-African Sub-Regional
Organisations Conference (AASROCII) Senior Official
Meeting in Durban on 19 August 2004
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Government and people of South Africa,
I welcome you to the second Asian-African Sub-Regional
Organisations Conference. I wish to express our thanks
for the role that Indonesia has played as Co-Chair in
preparing for this Conference.
President Mbeki this morning identified 3 major challenges
1. Poverty and under-development
2. Peace and security, and terrorism
3. Restructuring of the global exercise of power.
He called on us to stop being a " protest movement
" and use our collective strength to identify concrete
ways of meeting our challenges.
Your deliberations can and must be a response to the
President's call. Almost 50 years ago, representatives
from the continents of Asia and Africa met in Bandung,
Indonesia, on the occasion of the first Asia-Africa
Conference. The Ten Principles on which Afro-Asia relations
were founded emphasised peace full co-existence, friendly
co-operation, respect for sovereignty and territorial
integrity of all nations and recognition of the equality
of all races and all nations. These principles remain
as relevant today as 50 years ago.
As you are aware, these ten principles constituted
the seeds of non-alignment, which took root in Belgrade
in 1961. The vision for political solidarity and economic
cooperation as laid out at the AAC, has been a source
of inspiration for many countries over the last few
However, at this decisive stage we can't remain satisfied
with mere visions and statements. Our strategic partnership
must be based on realistic and achievable objectives.
The socio-economic situation in many of our countries
demands that we pay special attention, inter alia, to
trade, investment, technology transfer and human resource
development. We must also seek to promote the "dialogue
of civilisations" and the "culture of peace",
which is the foundation on which we must create a climate
for development and economic co-operation.
Our partnership must be developed on 3 levels:
· Sub-Regional Organisations, and
· People to People
A recent World Bank study shows that Asia has emerged
as an important partner in Africa's trade and development.
Africa's exports to Asia have grown in both proportion
and absolute value during the 1990s. Of Africa's total
export earnings, estimated to be about US$130 billion
per year (1999-2001 average), 16% are from sales to
Asia. The rate of increase in export values to Asia
(10% per year) has been higher than the rate to the
EU and the US during the past decade. Asia's developing
economies have increased their imports from African
countries significantly during the same period. The
data indicate that some Asian countries have significantly
increased their reliance on African imports.
The Report concludes that Asia could become a strategic
target for diversifying the markets for African products.
Demand from Asian markets potentially fits well with
the existing supply base of traditional primary commodities
in Africa. By recognising such linkage and by esgtablishing
new customer relations with Asian countries, Africn
exporters could significantly expand their exports of
traditional primary commodities - Africa's stagnated
The trade date indicate the existence of significant
potential for expanding trade relations between Africa
and Asia. To realise the full benefits from trade expansion,
the following 3 proposals will help.
1. First, the knowledge base on Africa-Asia trade and
investment relations needs to be strengthened, to better
understand how the market works between the 2 regions.
2. Second, an institutional arrangement will be needed
to enhance strategic dialogue between African and Asian
countries and to raise awareness of emerging business
opportunities among businesses in the 2 regions.
3. And third, African countries and international donors
need to recognise the importance of an enabling environment
for business activities, which is essential for economic
Your deliberations must determine whether the World
Bank study reflects the reality, and whether the proposals
We must act decisively because, with the end of the
Cold War, the emergence of unipolarity, the trend towards
unilateralism and the rise of new challenges and threats
and the rapid advance of science and technology, the
world has changed dramatically. The rich and powerful
countries exercise an inordinate influence in determining
the nature and direction of international relations,
including economic and trade relations, as well as the
rules governing these relations, many of which are at
the expense of the developing countries.
The asymmetries of the emerging international economic
order, the governance of international affairs, the
current situation of the world economic and other global
issues have unfavourable effects on developing countries,
giving rise to economic and social instability.
We must ensure that globalisation will be a positive
force for change for all peoples and will benefit the
largest number of countries and not just a few. Globalisation
should lead to the prospering and empowering of the
developing countries, not their continued impoverishment
and dependence on the wealthy and developed world.
The future presents as many challenges and opportunities
as the past and we must continue to remain strong, cohesive
and resilient. The continued relevance of the NAM will
depend, in large measure, on the unity and solidarity
of its members as well as its ability to adapt to these
changes. In this regard, the process of the revitalisation
of the Movement, begun at its previous Summit Meetings,
must be given further impetus.
In realising our goal of revitalising the Non-Aligned
Movement, we must exert every effort towards the promotion
of a multi-polar world through the strengthening of
the United Nations, as an indispensable international
organisation for the maintenance of international peace
and security, the promotion of human rights, social
and economic development and respect for international
law, as enshrined in its Charter.
South-South co-operation is not an option but an imperative
to complement North-South co-operation in order to contribute
to the achievement of the internationally agreed development
goals, including the Millennium Development Goals. While
we continue to recognize North-South co-operation as
fundamental for our development and expect solidarity,
understanding, co-operation and real partnership from
the North, it is South-South co-operation that is the
force of solidarity, with which we can overcome even
the biggest challenges.
We should reaffirm our commitment to South-South cooperation
and undertake to further strengthen it in different
areas, including information and communication technology,
trade, investment, finance, debt management, food, agriculture,
water, energy, health and education. We should enhance
and expand exchange of resources, experiences and know-how
in these areas to make South-South co-operation contribute
to economic growth and sustainable development.
South-South co-operation is more needed today than
ever. No single country, not even the most advanced
among developing countries, has much hope of reaching
individually expected growth and development targets
or influencing the outcomes of the international agenda.
Collectively, our countries can play a more effective
role in achieving development objectives and in shaping
The value of South-South co-operation and unity can
already be seen in the context of Multilateral Trade
At the WTO's 5th ministerial meeting held in Cancun,
several new alliances emerged which increased the confidence
of developing countries and changed the balance of power
in the negotiations. Developing countries stood up to
the big players by refusing to accept a draft ministerial
text, which they felt, did not reflect their views.
Most significantly, they refused to extend the remit
of the WTO, which lays down the rules of world trade,
into new areas such as investment.
The African Union formed an alliance with the African,
Caribbean and Pacific group of countries and with the
least developed countries - 61 WTO member countries
in all. Countries of the South had come together to
promote and secure their interests.
These alliances shaped the outcome of Cancun and suggest
that the WTO will in future be linked more closely to
the aspirations of the developing world. The recent
WTO meeting in Geneva indicates that our cohesion will
give us a new power to bargain for a better deal from
the international economic order.
We must assess whether we are at last ensuring that
South-South co-operation is an important instrument
to defend our interests and meet our objectives.
President Soekarno of Indonesia, in his opening speech
at the Conference in 1955 stated: "I beg of you
not to think of colonialism only in the classic form
which we citizens of Indonesia and our brothers in different
parts of Asia and Africa knew. Colonialism also has
its modern dress, in the form of economic control, intellectual
control, and actual physical control." This statement
is clearly still valid and relevant today.
There is, therefore, an urgent need for the countries
of Asia and Africa to come together and reactivate the
Spirit of Bandung.
Today, the countries of Africa and Asia are better
able to seek our rightful place as sovereign nations
in the global community. The enormity of this potential
should not be under-estimated. The co-operation amongst
countries of Africa and Asia in working together towards
overcoming the forces of colonialism and oppression
fostered a feeling of common destiny and purpose. However,
economically, many of our countries are still struggling
to focus on development and upliftment. Globalisation
and the advances of ICT have marginalised many of our
countries. Poverty remains a blight on the daily existence
of too many of our people.
We are acutely conscious that Africa is the only continent
where poverty is on the increase. Over 40% of Sub-Saharan
African people live below the international poverty
line of US$1 a day. More than 140 million young Africans
are illiterate. The mortality rate of children under
5 years of age is 140 per 1000, and life expectancy
at birth is only 54 years. Only 58 per cent of the population
have access to safe water. The rate of illiteracy for
people over 15 is 41 per cent. Africa's share of world
trade has plummeted, accounting for less than 2%.
According to the latest UNECA report of the 53 countries
in Africa, only 5 achieved the 7% growth rate required
to meet the Millennium Development Goals. Of the others,
43 registered growth rates below 7%, and 5 registered
negative growth. ODA declined from 17% in 1975-80 to
11% in 1995-2000. In absolute terms, bilateral ODA flows
to African economies have dropped in the last decade
and fell well short of the estimated $50 billion a year
required to reach the Millennium Development Goals.
These are problems that Asia have largely managed to
overcome. We have much to learn from the Asian experience.
Given the rapid pace of economic, social and political
change, it is important for the 100 plus countries of
Asia and Africa, with a combined population of some
4.3 billion, to realise their potential and work together
on the basis of mutual interest and benefit to promote
social and economic development, alleviate poverty,
develop a more competitive private sector and to achieve
long-term peace and stability.
Asian and African countries must strengthen their collaboration
in advocating for global peace and security, the establishment
of an equitable international economic order and social
justice, more equitable trade relations, the promotion
and expansion of investments, unconditional aid and
assistance, the eradication of poverty, easing the oppressive
and debilitating debt burden of developing countries,
the alleviation of the negative impact of globalisation
and a global partnership for sustainable development
In all of this, the revitalised Spirit of Bandung has
an important role to play.
For the countries of Asia and Africa to succeed in their
quest to overcome the imbalance between developed and
developing countries, we have to act in solidarity in
all areas, using our combined strength to make our voices
Given Africa's enormous potential and resources, Africa
is determined to change this reality. We have therefore
embarked on a process of reform and revitalisation.
This informed our form the African Union and to adopt
its socio-economic development programme, NEPAD.
NEPAD is premised on the understanding that Africa's
people share a common destiny, and that the development
and success of each of our countries depend on the success
and development of the rest of our continent.
As Africans we have a duty to determine what we ourselves
must do to address the challenges of poverty and underdevelopment.
We are determined to redefine our relationship with
developed countries as one of partnership and not of
NEPAD is a partnership among governments, the private
sector, labour unions and civil society. It represents
a commitment to use our own resources to address the
challenges of poverty and underdevelopment. As you would
expect, NEPAD focuses on the same matters that are central
to the agenda of Asian countries. These include human
resource development, with a specific focus on education,
health and gender equality, agriculture, diversification
of production, increased capital inflows, market access,
debt relief, infrastructure, technology and capacity-building.
Similarly, the AASROC process aims at achieving a new
strategic partnership between Africa and Asia, premised
on the Ten Principles of Bandung. This partnership should
include co-operation on the political, economic as well
as social and cultural fields, and must focus on the
practical, concrete areas where the most value can be
Last year, we met in Indonesia, on the occasion of
the first Asian-African Sub-regional Organisations Conference
(AASROC I). On that occasion, the need for a new strategic
partnership was highlighted. AASROC I identified the
following principles on which to develop this new strategic
· The Ten Principles of Bandung (Dasa Sila Bandung)
adopted at the 1955 Asian-African Conference.
· Recognition of diversity between and within
regions, including different social and economic systems
and levels of development.
· The Asian-African New Strategic Partnership
centres on Asian and African ownership based on a common
vision, an equal partnership and a firm and shared conviction.
· Commitment to open dialogue based on mutual
respect and benefit.
· Co-operation where there is scope for common
interest and mutual benefit.
· Efforts to strengthen, complement and build
upon existing regional and sub-regional organisations'
initiatives in both regions.
· Co-operation should be practical and based
on comparative advantage and mutual strength.
It emphasised the need for a process to identify common
challenges facing our two continents, as well as opportunities
and possible areas of cooperation.
It is incumbent on you as senior officials to assess
what progress we have made since AASROC I, in order
to make recommendations to the Ministers tomorrow, recommendations
that will seek to provide structural and operational
modalities, as well as substantive content to ensure
the concrete and meaningful realization of the New Asia
Africa Strategic Partnership that we seek to create.
AASROC II will provide the opportunity for Asia and
Africa to strengthen the bond that is developing between
the two continents, which will culminate in the Asia-Africa
Summit in Bandung in 2005, where the New Strategic Partnership
will be launched, a Partnership that will entrench the
alliance dreamt about by our visionary leaders in Bandung
I trust that your discussions today will adequately
prepare for the Ministers to conduct a meaningful and
constructive dialogue tomorrow and, ultimately, that
the deliberations of these two days will contribute
towards the success of the Asia-Africa Summit and the
Golden Jubilee celebrations in Indonesia next year.
It is up to us to ensure that the dream of our leaders
for Afro-Asian solidarity becomes a reality. If we fail,
future generations will not forgive us.
I wish you well in your deliberations.