Opening Remarks by
His Excellency President Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma
on the occasion of the Heads of State Economic Bilateral in Windhoek Namibia, 04 November 2010.
Your Excellency, My Dear Brother, Comrade President Hifikepunye Pohamba;
Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers;
Your Excellencies, High Commissioners of the Republics of South Africa and Namibia;
Ladies and gentlemen;
Let me start by conveying our warm and fraternal greetings to the Government and People of the sister Republic of Namibia and at the same time express our most profound thanks to you for hosting this, the 11th Session of the Heads of State Economic Bilateral Meeting in this beautiful city of Windhoek.
Today’s meeting is yet another occasion to cement the close bonds of solidarity and cooperation that our people have enjoyed over the years, dating back from the days of the liberation struggle against Apartheid and what came to be known as Colonialism of a Special Type. Our people and our countries are tied by history, geography, culture, common values and most importantly a shared destiny.
It is these enduring elements of our relations that enjoin us to work together in order to change the lives of our people and place our countries on a path towards development and prosperity. Accordingly, in addressing the future of our countries, we must, among other things, focus on the fundamental issues of development, namely: the alleviation of poverty, inequality, unemployment and other social ills that continue to afflict our societies.
This gathering is a perfect occasion to reflect on the outcomes of our efforts since our meeting in Pretoria on 3 November 2009, and to charter a clear way forward in our collective efforts for the development of our countries.
In this regard we note with satisfaction the excellent progress reported by the Ministers who have meeting over the past few weeks and who have made significant strides in the various fields of co-operation ranging from the environment and tourism, in particular Transfrontier Parks; Marine and Coastal Management, to Transport and Communication ; Agriculture; Energy; Science and Technology; Trade and Industry; Spatial Development Initiatives; and pertinent issues relating to the integration of the SADC region.
This wide and varied template of cooperation offers real prospects for mutual development and growth while at the same time expanding economic opportunities for diversification and investment.
Needless to say, our geographic proximity provides a tremendous opportunity for the development of cross-border infrastructure, which once fully developed will act as catalyst for economic development not only between our two countries but also the entire SADC neighbourhood.
Allow me to congratulate you on your recent election as the chairperson of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and further wish you success in your efforts to steer the region towards integration and development. Under your able stewardship we have no doubt that SADC’s economic integration trajectory will be escalated.
In this regard, I would like to recall the SADC Summit decision to establish a process that would define the future SADC Customs Union, its benchmarks and modalities. As the current Chairperson of SACU, South Africa will work collaboratively and in tandem with you as the Chair of SADC to ensure complementary of our efforts for the deeper integration of the SADC region.
Your Excellency, Africa stands on the threshold of a momentous and historic epoch of economic growth and development. In this regard, the NEPAD Heads of State implementation committee on the sidelines of the recent AU summit in Kampala took a decision to establish an infrastructure committee at Heads of State level to drive and oversee the process of infrastructure development on the African continent.
Consequently, it is critical that we establish a symbiotic link between broader continental efforts as well as those of our region for infrastructure development. Africa’s economic integration should be an organic process evolving from regional economic communities that will logically fuse into a single gigantic economy in line with the dictates of the Abuja Treaty. In this regard, we should spare no efforts in increasing the momentum of integration between SADC, COMESA and EAC. This tripartite economic project holds real prospects for contributing to continental efforts aimed at increasing intra-Africa trade.
Your Excellency, the current changes in the global economy which have resulted in the locus of economic development shifting to the Southern Hemisphere and Asia presents major opportunities for our two economies. They not only offer alternative markets but more significantly provide us with a rare an opportunity to engage in meaningful partnerships with emerging powers. The new global centres of economic power have completely altered the economic landscape and created real opportunities to bargain on the basis of new terms. In this regard, it is critical that we push for the conclusion of the DOHA Development Round, with a clear understanding of the state of our development and the concommitment obligation of the developed countries to offer us market access.
Your Excellencies let me also emphasise the need to speed up the resolution of all outstanding issues with regard to the EPAs with the European Union. Following our recent interaction with the European Union, we are convicenced that like never before disagreements with the EU on this matter have been narrowed and we are on the verge of finalising an agreement that recognises our developmental challenges while at the same time creating opportunities for mutual benefit.
Evidently the challenges that lie ahead are huge but not insurmountable. I am convinced that through our joint efforts we shall defeat poverty and underdevelopment.
On my behalf and my delegation let me thank you for the warm reception extended to us since our arrival in this beautiful city. As it is customary, we look forward to an open and frank discussion whose outcomes will consolidate and expand our bilateral relations in order to improve the lives of our people.
I Thank you