Remarks by Ministers Dlamini Zuma and Pranab Mukherjee on Conclusion of 7th South Africa – India Joint Ministerial Committee (JMC), Presidential Guesthouse, Bryntirion Estate, Pretoria, Friday 22 February 2008
Closing Remarks by Minister Pranab Mukherjee
Your Excellency, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Foreign Minister of the Republic of South Africa, distinguished members of the South African delegation, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me again begin by saying how satisfied I and my delegation feel with the proceedings of the last two days. For me personally, it is a please to be present here in Pretoria to continue the dialogue that we started in New Delhi last July. Before I go further, let me once again thank you for the excellent arrangements made for the holding of this Joint Ministerial Committee (JMC) and the warm hospitality that has been accorded to my delegation and myself.
Excellency, relations between our two countries are rooted in history and marked by the common values of plural democracy, respect for human rights and the promotion of social justice. More importantly, ours is a relationship between peoples, one that has stood the test of time and is ready to face the multiple challenges of a rapidly globalising world. These are challenges that will only yield to solutions that are necessarily born of co-operative action by like-minded states. India and South Africa are examples of two such states. Our bilateral as well as trilateral co-operation under IBSA has gathered considerable momentum and holds great promise for addressing not only regional, but also global issues. We hope to take this process forward energetically.
Excellency, since the last JMC, important developments have taken place in our bilateral relations and on issues of mutual interest. Our meeting yesterday and today have afforded us the opportunity for a comprehensive and in-depth review of our strategic partnership. The meetings and reports of the sectoral committees of the JMC have pointed out the direction in which we need to travel to consolidate our partnership. We are agreed on the need to maintain high-level contact and to deepen and broaden our engagement. For this, we need to further promote people-to-people contact and connectivity. We are also committed to co-operating closely in multilateral fora to ensure that our developmental and other interests are protected and promoted.
Apart from our own extensive dialogue over the last two days, my meetings yesterday with His Excellency the President and Her Excellency the Deputy President have further reinforced my conviction that our two nations have much to offer each other. As I said earlier, our broad based and co-operative endevours hold promise for the mutual benefit of not only our two peoples but also those of the region, and indeed the world.
Excellency, let me close with the hope that the many agreements that exist between our two countries will be executed vigorously and will yield the dividends that we expect of them. As someone you are familiar with said long ago: “The difference between what we do and what we could do would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.” Let us seek inspiration from these words of Mahatma Gandhi and rededicate ourselves to fully realising the potential of our multi-faceted partnership. I have no doubt that this meeting of the JMC constitutes the first step in precisely this direction.
Closing Remarks by Minister Dlamini Zuma
Honourable Minister for External Affairs of the Government of India Pranab Mukherjee,
Delegates from both countries,
Ministers of Science and Technology and Home Affairs,
Ladies and Gentlemen
I would like to thank everyone who was involved in the preparations of our 7th Joint Ministerial Commission. Everyone has worked hard and the results speak for themselves.
We are pleased that over the years the number of Sub-Committees have grown, now covering a broad range of issues, including political, security, defence, trade, economic and technical co-operation, health, tourism, agricultural, arts and culture, sport and recreation, science and technology, minerals and energy, communications, human resource development and immigration and citizenship matters.
During the discussions in the Sub-Committees the following issues have been agreed:
In Agriculture: The two parties agreed that the MoU on Co-operation in the field of Agriculture, which was not ready for signing during this meeting, will be signed during the forthcoming IBSA Ministerial Meeting in Cape Town in May 2008. India has also presented to South Africa a list of potential joint projects to be pursued. South Africa will reciprocate by providing a similar list, whereafter the parties will jointly narrow down the proposed objectives that could be achieved in the next two years.
As far as Arts, Culture, Sports and Recreation: Both sides agreed that the new extensive Programme of Co-operation which is about to be finalised for signature, should be expedited as soon as possible. Also in the field of Sports and Recreation proposals for bilateral co-operation were exchanged with a view to the finalisation of a Protocol of Action. We are also pleased that the KZN University has agreed to have a Gandhi-Luthuli Chair which is aimed at developing a closer understanding of both countries.
In the area of Science and Technology: Both sides noted with satisfaction the extension of the Indo-South Africa Science & Technology Cooperation Agreement and the signing of the Letter of Intent by the Indian and South African Minister to strengthen the ongoing co-operation. It was also agreed that the next Joint Committee will be held during the Ministerial visit to India before the IBSA Summit.
Immigration and Population Matters: This was the first meeting of the Sub-Committee on Immigration and Citizenship matters. Many important issues to ease the movement of people, business and tourists, from both sides were discussed and resolved, although some matters still remain for further engagement.
Trade, Economic and Technical Co-operation noted with satisfaction the increased surge in trade between the two countries, and undertook to increase efforts to further deepen co-operation, including participation in exhibitions and increased engagement in investment opportunities. It was also noted that the SACU-India Preferential Trade Agreement needs to be concluded to further open market access between SACU countries and India.
In the field of Tourism it was decided that South Africa will participate in the Equal Tourism conference in India proposed to take place in October 2008.
Minerals and Energy: The Working Group has agreed to meet during the next quarter in New Delhi where more areas of co-operation will be identified for deeper co-operation in e.g. technology exchanges and off course, there is already ongoing co-operation with regard to the beneficiation of coal.
Human Resource Development: It was decided to exchange research papers and to convene a Seminar to discuss possible new areas of agreement in the researched spheres.
Health: It was agreed that co-operation would be in community based HIV and Aids, TB and Nutrition Programmes, Water-borne diseases, and research in cancer and other specialised areas.
Communication: Several areas were identified, inter alia, skills development and capacity building in ICT, e-Government, e-Education and e-Health.
The deepening of relations has been given further impetus by high profile visits by Heads of State and Government from both countries. Prime Minister Singh visited South Africa in both 2006 and 2007 and President Mbeki is set to visit India twice in 2008 to attend the India-Africa Summit in April and the Third IBSA Summit in the fourth quarter.
To date, 32 bilateral agreements and MoUs have been signed in a multitude of fields of mutual interest. The challenge we pose is the actual implementation thereof. We are pleased, after discussions in the Sub-Committees, to note that good progress has been made in most areas. We are, furthermore, very pleased about the signing of three new agreements today: Exemption of Visas for Diplomatic and Official Passport holders, Science and Technology Co-operation and the Agreement on Co-operation and mutual assistance on Customs Matters. We are also looking forward to the expeditious signing of agreements in the fields of Agriculture and Arts and Culture, which will enhance co-operation.
Our partnership compels us to engage on more than bilateral matters, allowing us to discuss regional and multilateral issues that concern us. Thus we had frank talks on inter alia developments on the continent of Africa and the Asian Sub-Continent, the IBSA, IOR-ARC and NAASP, as well as the inaugural Summit of the India-Africa Forum. We exchanged views on international terrorism, the reform of the United Nations Security Council and the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, issues around international terrorism and a host of other issues.
We conclude our Joint Commission discussions today by reaffirming our commitment to creating a better life for all our peoples in the kind of world that both our founding fathers and brothers agreed on, whether Mahatma or others. We are very much committed to creating this better world.
These are just a highlight of the deliberations.
Questions and answers
Question Ministers, we understand the discussions are underway on a Free Trade Agreement between India and SACU – could you provide more information in this regard?
Question Ministers, in terms of the visa agreement for diplomatic and official passport holders – do you envisage a visa-free arrangement for all passport holders in the medium to long terms?
Answer (Minister Pranab Mukherjee) We have signed agreements that will facilitate trade, industry and also mutual interaction. Most of the countries today are moving in the direction of exempting official and diplomatic passport holders from the regular requirement of visas. Therefore this is in line with the growing international practice which we have adopted.
Similarly, in the area of customs, as you know, with the customs legislation and particularly the adoption of the WTO multilateral trading systems, every country is arched towards trade facilitation. Customs clearances and providing the uniform standard in respect of the customs clearances is the general approach that the international community is moving towards.
Our visa agreement will facilitate this process, particularly with regard to the trade facilitation process which is a part of the global economic order and I do agree that the growing economic co-operation particularly in the area of trade will facilitate this further expansion.
(Minister Dlamini Zuma) Maybe to add, on the question of the facilitation of business, we have agreed that business people who are working in South Africa and vice-versa would be given multiple entry visas so that they do not have to stand in queues each time they want to conduct business in either country
And off course, yes, the SACU-India discussions are ongoing and this will also facilitate trade between the SACU countries and India.
Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
22 February 2008