Deputy Minister Marius Fransman address to the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), 16 June 2011, Washington, USA

It gives me great pleasure to have this rare honor and privilege to address the CSIS. 

By virtue of our historical evolution as a country, South Africa embraces and practices what we call “the Diplomacy of Ubuntu”. Ubuntu is one of our defining value-system that South Africa wishes to export to the world. The Diplomacy of Ubuntu simply means - we affirm our own humanity when we affirm the humanity of others. The philosophy of the Diplomacy of Ubuntu translates into an approach in our international relations and cooperation that respects all nations, peoples and their cultures.

It is in this regard that since the dawn of our democracy in 1994, we have been championing other values of respect for human rights, democracy, peaceful resolution to conflict, reconciliation, the eradication of poverty and under-development. We therefore see our role in international relations, as that of championing collaboration, cooperation and building partnerships.

Programme Director, ladies and gentleman

My address to you today will first seek to put in brief context South Africa’s our foreign policy; second, share with you aspects of our economic diplomacy, including venturing into the BRICS Mechanism; third, speak to our development focus in Africa, in the context of our Partnership Development Agency; fourth, reiterate our historic call for the transformation of the Global Institutions of Governance; and lastly, emphasise the deepening and broadening of our bilateral economic, political, social and cultural relations.

South Africa’s foreign policy priorities focus on:

First,  the Consolidation of the African Agenda, which entails amongst others, the need for Africa’s economic growth and development; Africa’s political, economic and social integration at the regional and sub-regional levels; trade and investment; and democratization and good governance. South Africa strongly believes that a strong African Union (AU), supported by cohesive regional economic communities (RECs) is necessary to drive this agenda.

Our second priority relates to the promotion of South-South cooperation, which entail, amongst others, that we promote interdependence and cooperation among countries of the South, in their common fight for a world free of economic and political injustice, poverty and inequality.

Thirdly, we prioritize the deepening, strengthening and broadening of our North-South Cooperation, which entails, amongst others, working together with the developed countries of the North to confront challenges of poverty, under-development, the threat and absence of peace and security, including post-conflict reconstruction. We also seek to utilise our relations with countries of the North, to solicit their support and give the necessary momentum to the reform of UN and other Institutions of Global Governance. We will continue to utilize and expand partnerships with countries of the North to advance national priorities as well as the objectives of Africa and the South.

Our fourth priority pertains to our participation in the Global System of Governance. Reflecting on global political and socio-economic stability within the multilateral system; and promoting development, security, human rights and international law through our participation in the UN System and other forums. At the same time, we work for the reform of Institutions of Global Governance and the establishment of world system that is democratic, fair and sensitive to the needs and interests of the poor, vulnerable and developing countries of the world.

Lastly, our foreign policy speaks to the overall Strengthening of Political and Economic Relations. This entails, amongst others, consolidating our traditional bilateral political, cultural and economic partnerships
As we play our trade in far-away countries, we are searching for answers to our pressing national priorities which include the urgent call to create opportunities for jobs for our people; making quality health-care available to all; educating and skilling our people, thus enabling them to participate in the future knowledge economy; contribute to the provision of security and the reduction of crime; and responding to the call to develop our rural communities.

In the area of economic diplomacy, we remain aware that our future global and continental standing will be determined by how we remain true to our enduring values, economic success and our continued leadership on the continent. As we seek to manage the opportunities and risks that come with our integration into the global economy, our economic diplomacy has entailed, amongst others:

  • seeking to pursue national economic objectives and leverage opportunities that arise from global markets and increasing inflows of global trade and investment;
  • negotiating mutual beneficial sectoral cooperation agreements and investment treaties that support South Africa’ development space;
  • investing resources in the enhancement of the competitiveness of our goods and services in the major global markets;
  • working for a fair and equitable rules-based international trade regime that accommodates the developmental interests of developing countries;
  • pursuing market access for South African products, including investing resources in the attraction of investments and tourism;
  • pursuing value-added exports to the new emerging markets in order to deal with the structural trade imbalances; and
  • targeting foreign direct investments (FDIs) to South Africa and Africa, as well as assist in the development of human, institutional, technological and infrastructural resources.

In the context of our economic regional integration, South Africa will continue to play an important role in promoting peace, stability and development in the Southern African region as a member of SADC. We have just hosted, on June 11th – 12th, the Second Tripartite Summit of SADC, COMESA and EAC regions.  The purpose of the Tripartite Summit was to formally kick-start the negotiation process to establish a Free Trade Agreement between the countries of these regional economic communities.

This proposed Tripartite Free Trade Area represents an expanded trade bloc comprising 26 countries with a combined population of close to 700 million people, and a combined GDP of US$875 billion.  There is no doubt that a SADC-COMESA-EAC Free trade Agreement (FTA) will bring enormous benefits to the continent and will be a powerful stimulus for establishing this part of Africa as an international trade and investment destination. We will be focusing on putting in place the necessary infrastructure in order to realize our shared objectives in this respect.

As we joined the BRICS Mechanism, we did so in the belief that its collective could, amongst others, lend a significant weight in our call for the restructuring global governance mechanism, and amplifying the development interests of developing countries. The growing space and collective influence of this Mechanism is something we welcome. As BRICS rises, we believe, its development will seek to reflect a multiplicity of civilizations and political identities – which should be regarded as a source of strength rather than weakness in international relations.

Of crucial importance to our joining BRICS is that this Mechanism of emerging economies seeks to advance, amongst others, the restructuring of the global political, economic and financial architecture into one that is more equitable balanced and rests on the important pillar of multilateralism. Our approach to BRICS is informed by amongst others, the need to deepen, broaden and intensify our relations within the Mechanism and with individual countries.

Coincidentally, all BRICS Member States are serving on the UNSC as permanent (China and Russian Federation) or non-permanent members (Brazil, India and South Africa) – an important coincident that dovetails with our stated objective of pushing for the Reform of the United Nations, especially its Security Council and by extension other Institutions of Global Governance.

Programme Director,

Africa’s economic growth and development; its economic integration at the regional and sub-regional levels; its trade and investment; and its democratization and good governance – all constitute South Africa’s foreign policy key focus. Despite our various challenges, we believe South Africa cannot be “an island of prosperity in a sea of poverty”.

Our core value of humility enjoins us to our roots as a country born out of the sacrifices of so many a people of the world. As our country emerges from an era of being the skunk of the world, we believe we need to contribute towards the building of a peaceful, democratic and prosperous Africa in a prosperous world.

It is important for me to mention that, South Africa’s international agenda is anchored on the goal of creating a better South Africa, and contributing to a better and safer Africa in a better world. We want to reiterate that our Foreign Policy’s ideological outlook and value system is informed by:

  • the spirit of internationalism;
  • the rejection of colonialism and other forms of oppression;
  • the quest for the unity and economic, political and social renewal of Africa;
  • the promotion and defence of the plight of the suffering masses and poor of the world; and
  • our opposition to the structural inequality and abuse of power in the global system. 

As South Africans, we remain eager to see progress in our Continent of Africa being registered in the areas of peace and security; economic and infrastructural development; training and skilling of Africans; putting an end to poverty and illiteracy; popularizing democracy and good governance; and ending wars and internecine battles that are of no consequence.

In our various interactions with our stakeholders, we have defined our roles in Africa and the world, as that of bridging the space between the powerful and the powerless in the international system; regional peacemaking; supporting the objective of international peace and security; shaping the 21st century to be a century of Africa’s political, social and economic renewal; and ensuring that a rules-based system is established, which limits the possibility of unilateral action by major powers.

Our core value of humility enjoins us to our roots as a country born out of the sacrifices of so many a people of the world. As our country emerges from an era of being the skunk of the world, we believe we need to contribute towards the building of a peaceful, democratic and prosperous Africa in a prosperous world.

Notwithstanding our meager resources, South Africa is in the process of establishing a Development Agency (SADPA). This body is intended to drive a development partnership programme, which will be part of a broader arsenal to our foreign policy implementation. We believe that development elsewhere in Africa serves simultaneously to advance South Africa’s national interests and those of the international community. We share a common world and our destinies as nations are interconnected.

Despite our position as a developmental state, the SA government recognizes that development in our region and the continent is a key and fundamental challenge facing humanity. The scourges of poverty, underdevelopment and marginalization, as well as their causes and consequences, and the conditions that sustain them, are the legitimate targets of South Africa’s foreign policy interventions.

This will also support our continent-wide drive to be at the forefront of our own development initiatives. It is our conviction that this will create the necessary policy space and opportunity for Africans to set the agenda for development and to find innovative solutions. We envisage SADPA’s to play an active role in building innovative, proactive and sustainable partnerships to advance African development. SADPA will seek to build its capacity as the pre-eminent authority on development in Africa. 

We envisage closer collaboration between our SADPA and US-Aid and look forward to both agencies contributing to growth, development, stability, peace and human security in totality.

Please allow me to jog your memories back on the fundamentals of our Memorandum of Understanding for the Establishment of a Bilateral Strategic Dialogue between the Government of the Republic of South Africa and the Government of the United States of America.
Our Strategic Dialogue calls on both of us, to, amongst others:

  • ensure that our bilateral relations are materially strengthened and our Annual Bilateral Forum yields satisfactory results for both our Governments;
  • ensure our relations is based on cooperation that covers a diverse range of issues, such as the recovery of the global financial crisis; pursuit of sustainable economic and social development; the reform of the United Nations Security Council; and achieving peace, security and stability in Africa;
  • ensure that our collective efforts support Africa and makes a real impact on its quest for economic and political renewal, including its achievement of the Millennium Development Goals;
  • ensure the MoU remains a living organism which delivers tangible results, and that the Working Groups established under the ABF must be reinvigorated and realigned to our key priorities in their work; and
  • ensure that we remain part of this global partnership – between the South and the North and among countries of the South – working together to confront challenges of poverty, development, peace and security, post-conflict reconstruction, and the governance of our international system.

Programme Director, as I conclude, I wish to put on record that there is a lot of positive energy between the US and South Africa. For instance, the US is South Africa’s second largest export market after Japan. There are over 600 American businesses operating in South Africa and US investors are among South Africa’s largest portfolio investors.

Our country is also grateful for the partnership you have with us in, for instance, the area of training for some of our state institutions and the medical research programme on HIV and AIDs.  We know that the US Administration is also making serious consideration on its involvement in the areas of rural development and food security.

This partnership to which we have committed ourselves should definitely enhance the efforts on our continent towards fighting hunger, disease and ignorance and to promote democracy and good governance, socio-economic development, peace and security, as well as post-conflict reconstruction and development. 

We remain convinced that our friendship and good bilateral relations between our two countries can help this effort, as we are friends who are bound together by a common vision of a prosperous and democratic world that is free of hunger, disease, ignorance and the exclusion of women. We appreciate the support we have had from the government and the people of the United States of America as our international partners over the years.

Our bilateral political relations with the United States of America are sound and characterised by openness and mutual respect. We have established mechanisms to exchange ideas even on those areas where our views may differ. By and large we share common values which form the bedrock of our partnership.

Ours, we believe, cannot be a partnership based on shifting sands of political expediency. Our nation values this partnership and will play its part to protect it, to nurture it and ensure that it grows.

I thank you!


OR Tambo Building
Private Bag x152

16 June 2011


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