Address by His Excellency President Jacob Zuma to the South Africa-Egypt Business Forum Cairo, Egypt 19th October 2010
Captains of industry and commerce,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to meet with you today, during this important State Visit aimed at deepening our relations with the Arab Republic of Egypt.
Let me take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to the government and the people of the Arab Republic for hosting us this week in Cairo.
South Africa and the Arab Republic of Egypt have enjoyed close historical ties of solidarity for many years.
These have translated into socio-political and economic cooperation aimed at improving the lives of our people, advancing the development of Africa and promoting South-South and North-South cooperation.
We remember fondly the solidarity and unwavering support provided to the group of seven representatives from our liberation movement that came to Egypt to solicit support for the struggle against apartheid in South Africa many years ago.
It is in light of these shared historical links between the two countries that we are now fostering closer economic links.
Ladies and gentlemen,
In 2008, His Excellency President Hosni Mubarak paid a historic State Visit to South Africa which ushered in a new era in our political, social and economic relations.
We feel privileged to reciprocate President Mubarak’s visit, more so because this is the first State Visit to Egypt by a South African Head of State since the attainment of our liberation and the ushering in of democracy.
We regard this visit as crucial because Egypt is a strategic partner for South Africa in many respects, both within the African Union family as well as in promoting relations between the Afro-Arab relations.
We appreciate and respect the role that Egypt is playing in the United Nations, the African Union, the Non-Aligned Movement, the New Asia-Africa Strategic Partnership, the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation and the African Ministerial Committee on Science and Technology.
These forums provide further avenues of cooperation between the two countries, in addition to bilateral mechanisms.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Our key strategic objective, which is shared by our sister countries in the African Union, is the eradication of poverty, promotion of sustainable development as well as the attainment of peace and stability within the continent.
The pursuit of a stable, peaceful and prosperous Africa has been the mission of ANC democratic governments since 1994 in our country.
We continue to participate in peacemaking, peacekeeping and post-conflict reconstruction support in affected countries in the continent.
Last week our efforts received a much needed boost when South Africa was re-elected as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.
We will use our seat to keep African issues high on the agenda of the Security Council, and to continue promoting African solutions to African problems.
We will continue to promote peace, conflict resolution, poverty alleviation and sustainable economic development on the continent and the developing world.
In this regard, South Africa will work hard to strengthen the existing cooperation between the UN Security Council and the African Union.
One of the achievements of South Africa’s previous tenure at the UN Security Council was the promotion of the role of regional organisations in the maintenance of international peace and security.
A high level African Union-United Nations Panel was established to consider how the international community can support African Union peacekeeping operations.
South Africa has therefore been instrumental in strengthening the partnership between the UN and the AU with a view to enhancing the AU’s capacity for peacekeeping.
Our country’s initiative also led to the institution of annual meetings between the African Union Peace and Security Council and the UN Security Council, that alternate between Addis Ababa and New York.
This was a substantive achievement as coordination on the overlapping agendas of the two Councils is of paramount importance.
We will build on these achievements, especially with regards to peace building and development.
One of the important current focus areas in the continent is the attainment of lasting peace in the Sudan.
We call for the full implementation of all aspects of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement by all parties without any further delay.
We will respect the decision of the people of South Sudan whether they choose unification or to secede in the planned referendum in January 2011.
We will also continue with our capacity building programmes in the Sudan after the referendum.
Our efforts in the Sudan have attracted interest from a number of partners in the international community. These partners will be engaged with the aim of establishing trilateral arrangements in order to assist the Sudan.
The resolution of the Sudanese question is of paramount importance, not only to the Sudanese but to all countries in this region, and indeed the entire continent. Working together we will find lasting solutions.
Ladies and Gentleman,
We fully recognise the critical importance of North-South relations in a world that is becoming increasingly interdependent, as we pursue our developmental goals.
Guided by the African Union, South Africa will strive to deepen relations with the North through initiatives such as the European Union-Africa partnership.
Earlier this month, we visited Brussels for discussions with the European Union, aimed at enhancing South Africa-EU relations as well as relations between the EU and the African continent.
These links include political and economic relations as well as collaboration in the promotion of peace and security in the African continent and the world.
We look forward to the Africa-European Union Summit that will take place at the end of next month in Libya. The Summit will enable us to firm up support in some of the critical economic, political and social development areas.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We have no doubt in our minds that the developing world is poised to play a key role in shaping the new world order.
We remain firm in the view that after Asia and Latin America, Africa is the next zone of economic growth and development.
It is estimated that the market size of the developing world will be larger than the developed world by 2020. It is therefore important for developing nations to trade amongst each other, in addition to trading with the developed North.
South Africa and Egypt signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Economic Co-operation on the 2nd of August 2009.
The agreement should help us unlock the economic potential of the two countries through economic co-operation that includes industrial and technological co-operation, as well as the transfer of skills.
Our message to you as businesspeople of the two countries is that our mission is to increase investments in each other's economies. We want greater volumes of trade, and there is lots of room to achieve this goal.
South Africa provides opportunities for trade and investments in auto motive components, capital equipment, aerospace, energy, chemicals, agro-processing and ICT to name a few.
We also urge businesspeople from both countries to make use of opportunities in the continent, which will result especially from regional integration.
The SADC Free Trade Agreement, launched in August 2008, has a registered market of one hundred and seventy million people, worth three hundred and sixty billion US dollars.
On the other hand, the proposed Free Trade Area encompassing COMESA, East African Community and SADC - literally from Cape to Cairo - provides a market of seven hundred million consumers.
This is an indication that a lot of work is being done in practical terms, to achieve renewal and economic development in the continent.
Africa is moving beyond conceptualisation and rhetoric, to concrete work that will help end conflicts, alleviate and ultimately eradicate poverty and create decent work that will improve the quality of life.
This is more evident with regards to the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, (NEPAD).
The July AU Summit designated some Heads of State and Government as champions of infrastructure projects in the following sectors: information and communication technologies, Transport, Energy, Water and Agriculture.
We have to see an end to the scenario where one has to fly to Europe in order to reach an African country in the North or West of Africa, within 24 hours.
Transport and communication links are therefore an apex priority.
Infrastructure development is being championed at the highest level. The NEPAD High Level Sub-Committee on Infrastructure comprises Heads of State and Government from South Africa, Algeria, Benin, Egypt, Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Rwanda and Senegal.
The leaders will be assisted by a team of Ministers from each country. In South Africa we have assigned Trevor Manuel, our former Finance Minister and now the Minister in the Presidency responsible for the National Planning Commission, to support the President in this regard.
South Africa is tasked with the political championing of the North-South infrastructure development corridor and to mobilise resources for the implementation of projects, with greater emphasis on road and rail links.
We will therefore be knocking on the doors of the business sector, impressing upon you to support these initiatives, in the spirit of public-private sector partnerships.
Ladies and gentlemen,
While the United Nations is the foremost multilateral organisation, there are other key forums which bring nations together to discuss common issues, such as the G20 forum.
In a few weeks’ time the G20 Summit will take place in South Korea.
South Africa attaches great importance to multilateralism. In this regard, we view the United Nations as the most inclusive and legitimate international institution for the discussion on international issues.
The G20 is not seen as a competition to the UN, but rather as having a legitimate complementary role to play in promoting relevant global initiatives.
South Africa continues to pursue the following priorities within the G20: the reform of the international financial institutions, creating a framework for strong, sustainable and balanced growth, and restoring growth in low income countries, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The forthcoming summit has a more pronounced developmental angle, which provides a framework for us to take our issues forward with regards to the continent.
These include the honouring of commitments made to Africa in previous Summits.
Through forums such as the G20, we also need to take forward our mission of establishing fair trade terms between African countries and the North.
In this regard, we will continue calling for the revival and conclusion of the World Trade Organisation Doha Development Round, with the objective of gaining greater market access for our commodities in global markets.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Before concluding, let me emphasise that peace is indivisible. As much as we work for peace in the African continent, we also call for peace in the Middle East and other parts of the world that still face conflicts.
We welcome the role played by Egypt in the pursuit of peace in the Middle East, especially the Palestinian-Israeli question.
However, we are deeply concerned that there continues to be no agreement on Israel ceasing settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, and that Israel did not renew its partial moratorium on settlement expansion, which expired on 26 September 2010.
We have noted with cautious optimism, the recent resumption of direct negotiations between Israel and Palestinian leaders which was officially launched on the 2nd of September 2010, in Washington, brokered by the Quartet and having the support of His Excellency President Mubarak and His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan.
We also support the call of the United States and most of the international community for Israel to halt all settlement activity.
We reiterate our support for a two state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli question.
It is an achievable goal if all parties play their role, supported by neighbours and the international community.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Let me reiterate how pleased we are to be visiting this historic country, with which we want to develop deeper cultural, economic and social links.
We also trust that this business forum will deliver concrete results in the form of trade partnerships and new investments in the two countries, and also within the continent in general.
Working together we can build a better Africa and a better world.
I Thank You.