Statement by Deputy Minister Ebrahim General Debate at the 11th Council of Ministers’ Meeting of the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC) 15 November 2011, Bengaluru, India

Your Excellency, Minister Krishna,

Your Excellencies, Ministers representing the Member States of the IOR-ARC,

Your Excellencies, Ambassadors and High Commissioners,

Your Excellency, Ambassador Sarmadi, Secretary-General of the IOR-ARC

Ladies and Gentlemen

It is a great honour for South Africa to have been invited to the 11th Council of Ministers meeting of the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation.  

I wish to convey the South African delegation’s sincere appreciation for the exceptional hospitality that we have enjoyed in this historic palace which symbolises our shared regional heritage.  At the same time we are gathered in the modern and vibrant technological city of Bengaluru, which we as the IOR-ARC Member States also take pride in as our inspiration to leapfrog into a shared prosperous future.  When I witness the accelerated technological developments in India and this city in particular, I can see a bright future for the next generation of people of the Indian Ocean Rim.  

Unfortunately, due to obligations related to her duties as President of COP17/CMP7 over the next few weeks, Minister Nkoana-Mashabane could not attend this meeting, but asked that I please convey her warmest wishes to the Excellencies representing the IOR-ARC membership here today to conduct a most fruitful meeting.

Please allow me to also extend our warmest appreciation to Yemen, as the outgoing Chairperson of our organisation, for its tireless efforts to further strengthen our collective resolve to build this Indian Ocean Rim organisation and community.  May I also extend our warmest congratulations to India and Minister Krishna as the incoming Chairperson, as well as to Australia and Minister Rudd as the incoming Vice Chairperson.  Please rest assured that South Africa is keen to work with India and Australia, as well as the other Member States of the IOR-ARC, in their quest to take the association forward, we are convinced that under your most able leadership our organisation will further consolidate and deepen our various vibrant exchanges. 

It is also a great pleasure to welcome back into the organization our brothers and sisters from the Seychelles. Their country forms a fundamental part of the Indian Ocean Rim and together we look forward to further strengthening the Rim  to the benefit of all.
I also wish to convey our warm appreciation to Secretary-General Sarmadi and the Secretariat for the excellent support they have provided to our work programme.
The relevance of the IOR-ARC has never been more poignant at this time due to the various challenges facing not only its membership, but also that of the broader international community.   

I am reminded of former President Nelson Mandela’s words in 1997 when our organisation was founded where he stated that and I quote:

”The natural urge of all the facts of history and geography should broaden itself to include the concept of an Indian Ocean Rim for socio-economic cooperation and other peaceful endeavours”.

Mr Chairperson, the IOR-ARC has played and continues to play a crucial role in fostering closer cooperation in multiple areas between the countries bordering the Indian Ocean. It is therefore of cardinal importance that we seriously contemplate the future of the IOR-ARC and the pillars on which the IOR-ARC are built. We all recognise that the world as we know it, is undergoing profound changes across a broad spectrum, ranging from financial, security, development and inclusive growth challenges, food shortages and the ever present climate change question. These challenges will have a direct influence on us all and it is therefore my wish and that of the South African government that this association of Ministers meeting will reflect on these issues and thereby allow the IOR-ARC to make the appropriate contributions we as Member States expect.

We deeply value institutions where our people to people cooperation can prosper along side that of our governmental exchanges. 
Mr Chairperson

We are aware that the various sea routes of the world are the main conduits for our international trade and safety, therefore considerations in this regard are paramount to ensure increased global trade, notably from an African perspective. The AU Ministers of Maritime Transport resolved to work together for the realisation and implementation of various United Nations (UN) Resolutions relating to maritime transport safety and security. They also further resolved to promote and support regional and sub-regional coordination and monitoring of activities aimed at improving maritime safety and security in Africa.  In the context of the SADC, we are currently finalising our Maritime Anti-Piracy Strategy. 

As an expanding economy, South Africa as well as other countries, wish to grow the size of its market for its products and services, among others, through increasing market opportunities in the global economy especially in the emerging markets and growth poles. The past decade has underlined the rise of new dynamic markets notably such as that of India, and other rapidly growing developing economies in the Rim.  As demonstrated, even during this period of financial hardship, the dynamism of the emerging economies is driving progress with a substantial part of global GDP growth and trade being on account of these countries and their trade.  I am cognisant that certain Rim countries are already strategic trade partners and we should continue to provide impetus to develop such exchanges among our Member States.    

Our Government will work to ensure that South Africa continues to relate to the Indian Ocean Rim as well as traditional and new partners in a manner that best supports our future growth trajectory. Our development process require special policies and measures considering developmental challenges such as unemployment and income disparity both within South Africa and our region.

Chairperson, I trust that the reports that will be presented to us today by the representatives of the different committees and working groups will contain positive and applicable suggestions on the way forward.

In closing it would be remiss of me not to mention that South Africa will be hosting 20 000 people from all over the world for the 17th Conference of Parties to the UN Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC) and the 7th Conference of Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties (CMP7) to the Kyoto Protocol over the next few weeks in Durban, an Indian Ocean port city.  Climate Change is a component of sustainable development.  It is about finding a balance between the imperatives of socio-economic development and meeting the needs of our people (on the one hand), and protecting our environment (on the other).  The issues that will be deliberated at this meeting also have bearing on the work programme of this organisation and South Africa would appreciate your support to achieve a successful outcome at this meeting. 

I would also like to thank the Government of India for the generous contribution of 1 Million USD they have pledged to the IOR-ARC Special fund.

I wish to convey our sincere appreciation for the contribution of India to the special fund.

Excellencies, let us all come together and work for a better future to secure the sustainable development of our beloved planet, including its rich resources such as the Indian Ocean, in the interest of humankind and future generations.

I Thank you.
Issued by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation
460 Soutpansberg Road

15 November 2011

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