Statement by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, the honourable Ms Sue van der Merwe, on the Launch of South Africa's participation in the World Expo, 2005, in Aichi, Japan.

Minister of Trade and Industry, Mandisi Mpahlwa,
Representative from the Embassy of Japan in South Africa,
Ambassador Ben Ngubane
Government and private sector officials
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Members of the media present here today
Ladies and Gentlemen:

On behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I would like to say thatwe are proud to be part of this project.

South Africa¡¦s participation in the World EXPO 2005 serves to showcase our country not only through promoting our country as trading nation but also to convey to the wider world what we as a nation, as a country and as part of the African continent have done and are doing in improving the lives of our people.

Clearly, our contribution in the international arena is not simply to promote our interests, but also to act as a catalyst for economic activity in our region and on the continent and to promote South South co-operation. The EXPO gives us the space to carry out this work, to share our progress with others and to focus on sustainable solutions to the world¡¦s problems. Our National Pavilion will have to bring our take on how humanity should work in tandem with nature for a more enduring reality.

Moreover, the current processes of globalisation have effectively widened the gap between North and South and brought many challenges especially for the developing world. Given also our long history of struggle and of international solidarity, we have taken it upon ourselves as South Africa to be an agent of progressive change and to work towards expanding the existing global political space to pursue the objective of a better life for all in a better world.

We believe that this World EXPO gives the countries of the world not only an opportunity to demonstrate their unique identities, but also to find common ground on the shared space that is this EXPO, to engage in cultural and social exchange in a global marketplace of ideas, but also, and most importantly, to build an international space in which to encourage dialogue. In this way, I believe that such an EXPO is another small step in which the people of the world can begin to understand each other, to strengthen multilateralism and also to extend the space for multilateralism in the world community.

Part of the discussion at an EXPO such as this is also to use the forums at such a huge gathering with a sustained audience to put forward the agenda of the "X Eradication of poverty and underdevelopment "X The promoting of peace and security "X Restructuring the global exercise of power.

As South Africa, we wish to use this opportunity to strengthen our bilateral relations especially for economic co-operation and to convey a message of hope to the world that through strengthening trade links and building friendships we can create a better climate for world peace and prosperity and for sustained development.

This World EXPO co-incides with a number of other important events that will happen this year that also contributes to bringing peace and friendship to the world.

In the year 2005, we also look forward to a number of international conferences and summits which South Africa is participating in, including Beijing +10, Copenhagen+10, the review of progress on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) arising out of the Millennium Summit 5 years ago, as well as a Special Summit examining UN reform and the continuation of the Doha development round of the WTO. All of these events together with the EXPO bring countries of the world together to assess progress made and to pursue the development agenda.

South Africa will also be hosting the Progressive Governance Summit - this important forum provides an opportunity for like-minded countries to share and exchange views of mutual concern.

There is also a forthcoming IBSA Trilateral Commission in March 2005, which will be used to strengthen trilateral co-operation among the three countries.

The EXPO also enables us especially to foster our relations with Japan and its neigbouring countries and to show visitors what South Africa and Africa are doing to help to improve the world.

In pursuit of furthering unity and co-operation between Asia and Africa, we are also preparing for our participation in the forthcoming Bandung Summit.

We also see the forthcoming South (G77) Summit to be held in Qatar as an opportunity to assess the state of South-south co-operation as well as the ways in which such co-operation may improve progress towards attaining the Millennium Development Goals in developing countries.

Eleven years into our democracy, we now stand at the dawn of great global changes and immense possibilities for development in South Africa. Participation in the World EXPO can contribute to bringing foreign direct investment into our economy and enhance the possibilities for growth as well as boost our international tourism by marketing our country as a tourist destination. South Africa is increasingly focusing on both political and economic diplomacy to strengthen ties.

Over the last decade, we have put a lot of effort into the development of policies and international agreements and protocols, necessary for the struggle against poverty underdevelopment, and the fight against racism, sexism and injustice. As we make our way to Japan, we will be sharing our experiences to promote a more sustainable and harmonious coexistence for all life on Earth, towards people, planet and prosperity, as outlined in the Johannesburg Declaration coming out of the World Summit for Sustained Development.

In this year, which, of course, is also the 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Charter, we commit ourselves to use the EXPO as a space for plotting the possibilities of the future and to be ourselves as well as continuing to bring peace and friendship amongst all our people and to the people of the world.

We congratulate our Ambassador in Japan, Dr Ben Ngubane for all the hard work together with team at the South African Embassy in Japan and all government departments participating in the project for the work they have done this in preparation of the World EXPO in Japan.

I thank you.

Issued by Ronnie Mamoepa on 082 990 4853.

Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152

22 February 2005

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