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

Your Excellencies,
Distinguished Guests,
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 decades.

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:
· Governmental
· 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 core businesses.

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 growth.

Your deliberations must determine whether the World Bank study reflects the reality, and whether the proposals are adequate.

Chaiperson,

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.

Chairperson,

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 international relations.
The value of South-South co-operation and unity can already be seen in the context of Multilateral Trade negotiations.

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.

Chairperson

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 heard.

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 dependence.

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 achieved.

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 partnership.

· 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 in 1955.

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.

Thank You

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