Remarks by President Motlanthe on the Occasion of the 3rd IBSA Summit, New Delhi, 15 October 2008

HE Prime Minister Singh
HE President Da Silva
Honourable Ministers
Representatives of the People-to-people Fora and the Media
Senior Officials
Ladies and Gentlemen

I would like to extend South Africa’s deep appreciation to the Government and the people of India for hosting the 3rd IBSA Summit; and for the hospitality accorded us.
 
We can contend that, since its inception in 2003, IBSA has determinedly drawn the attention of the international community to fundamental questions of human development and equitable international relations.

For this we must acknowledge the outstanding vision and contribution of the founders of IBSA including my predecessor, Mr Thabo Mbeki. We therefore recommit ourselves to strive for the realisation of IBSA’s objectives as agreed among our countries.

Strengthening relations among countries of the South remains a central pillar of South Africa’s foreign policy.

Excellencies,

The significance of our gathering today lies, among others, in the fact that we are concluding the first cycle of IBSA Summits.

Since the 1st Summit in 2003, we have managed to consolidate and align our positions on issues of global importance, in the interest of our sister-nations and indeed that of the peoples of the world.

The challenge we face today is to expedite the implementation of the many Agreements, Memoranda of Understanding and Joint Action Plans that we have adopted.

In addition, although intra-IBSA trade has expanded rapidly, a great deal more has to be done.

Our will to meet the outstanding objectives is informed by the progress made thus far.
 
Excellencies,

Since our last meeting the international political and economic system has entered into a period of great instability, accompanied by food and energy security crises and, more recently, the turmoil in financial markets.
These militate against the achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Our collective responsibility remains poverty eradication worldwide.

History has firmly placed on this IBSA Summit, the enormous responsibility to do our outmost to address both the immediate and long-term implications of the global challenges.

The ill-conceived decisions of the few have brought the international financial system to the brink of collapse with dire consequences for the many poor and vulnerable most notably from our three continents.
 
Therefore I am obliged to raise a number of key strategic considerations with regard to the South and, more particularly, IBSA in the global system.

Ten years ago, the efforts of Asian countries to stabilise their financial system and develop sustainable financial models were dismissed by those who today pour in huge amounts of capital to shore up institutions whose governance practices are questionable.

We do hope that, as joint efforts are put in place to address these challenges, leaders of both developed and developing countries will examine the central question as to what really went wrong! Where are the self-regulatory mechanisms that we were told would obviate what has become an unmitigated disaster?

As a developing world we must accept that one size fits all solutions prescribed to us by the developed world must be approached cautiously. They are not always the panacea they are held out to be.

We are rightfully suspicious today of philosophies of economic liberalisation underpinned by blind faith in poorly regulated markets.

Indeed, the irony of the current global financial crisis is that the pillars of stability and the hope for future economic recovery potentially lie in the South - if we continue to prioritise both growth and the redistribution of wealth to the majority, including the poor.

A few critical matters require ongoing reflection.

Firstly, how do we incentivise production and trade of commodities rather than the cynical and speculative trade in money markets that bear little relation to actual production and trade?

Secondly, how do we do we improve the governance of financial institutions to facilitate investments in human development rather than encourage short-termism and self enrichment among executives of large international corporations. 

Thirdly, how do we strengthen our own capacities as the South to build sustainable financial and productive systems?

Fourthly, how do we give new impetus to global trade negotiations, proceeding from the understanding that, ultimately, it is equitable trade which will drive human development? 

This Summit should reflect on the immediate pooling of our intellectual resources to pursue these and other questions.

IBSA is an inter-continental platform to actualise a new strategic thrust for the South.

The UN General Assembly’s acknowledgement of the need for urgent reform of the Security Council creates a basis for the efforts, across a wide front, to build international institutions that are more democratic and representative. The same should apply to global financial and economic institutions.

Excellencies,
The simple call from South Africa is that we should redouble our efforts to seize the opportunities that history has thrust upon us.

I thank you

 

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