Opening Remarks by Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane at the 7th IBSA Trilateral Commission Meeting, New Delhi, 8 March 2011

Your Excellency, Minister Krishna
Your Excellency, Minister Patriota
Our National Focal Points and their representatives
Ladies and gentlemen

Please accept my warm appreciation for the kind hospitality extended to me and my delegation since our arrival in the incredible India.

I would like to wish India every success in the hosting of the Cricket World Cup, and (on a lighter note) express my wish to see India and South Africa play in the final!  Perhaps India and South Africa must export cricket to Brazil; and South Africa and Brazil export soccer to India!

Our warm congratulations and best wishes go to Brazil for hosting the next FIFA Soccer World Cup.  South Africa is ready to exchange its experience in hosting this event.

On a more somber note, allow me to convey our condolences for the suffering of the Brazilian people due to natural disasters. 

Your Excellencies, we will forever remain grateful for the support we received from your respective countries for our membership of BRICS.  I do believe that these two organisations are unique in their own right, but there are complementarities where the two could join forces.  I am looking forward to exchanging views with you on the forthcoming BRICS Summit as well as South Africa’s hosting of the IBSA Summit in October 2011.

The events currently unfolding in parts of North Africa and the Middle East emphasize the importance of democracy and inclusive growth to the development of our countries. These are the core values that define the IBSA community.  To us, democracy, good governance, respect for human rights, and delivering services to our people – is what we consider central to the work of our respective governments.      

We as IBSA partners must continue to support a peaceful solution to these various crises.

This brings me to the critical aspect of ensuring that the UN remains central to addressing global peace and security issues.  While we are on the UN Security Council as non-permanent members, we remain concerned that we are there as second-class citizens when we should all be represented on the UN equally.  I do believe, therefore, that the time is opportune, given our joint representation in the UNSC, to conclusively advance UNSC reform. Our Joint Communiqué to be issued after this meeting reflects our resolve to maintain our close coordination with a specific aim to achieve concrete results in the ongoing inter-governmental negotiations by the end of the current UNGA session.  Our Permanent Representatives should remain seized with this matter and define joint strategies towards this end.  

We will definitely take the sustainable development agenda forward through South Africa’s hosting of COP 17 and Brazil hosting the Rio + 20 Summit.  In this regard, we will closely consult in preparing for COP17 with our partners, also in the context of the BASIC group.

On international trade issues, the conclusion of the WTO’s Doha Development Round has been taking far too long and it is time that we bring this to finality, but certainly not at the cost of achieving a balanced outcome for developing countries.  We are perturbed that it would appear that certain parties may wish to frustrate the process of reaching a conclusive Round.  South Africa’s Permanent Representative to the WTO in Geneva has been instructed to remain vigilant to this fact and coordinate closely with like-minded partners.   

Meanwhile we should pursue our common goal of achieving $25bn inter-IBSA trade by 2015 with renewed vigour.  Our leaders at the next IBSA Summit could provide further impetus to advancing our trilateral trade.  We still view the issue of interconnectivity among our three countries as of the utmost strategic importance and this matter should remain high on the agenda of the relevant Working Groups.

When I glance at our southern skies and see many satellites criss-crossing the night like stars, I am eagerly looking forward to receive the data from our IBSA satellite initiative that was announced at the past Summit.  I am convinced that this project will demonstrate to the world that IBSA as one working model for South-South cooperation is reaching new heights for a better world.

I welcome the opportunity to discuss later how we could collectively take greater ownership of the IBSA Fund and further enhance its visibility as our unique flagship initiative for South-South cooperation.

Excellencies, Africa stands to benefit from this IBSA partnership in our quest as a continent for sustainable development, peace and security, and democracy. South Africa is playing its part in advancing NEPAD priority sectors and particularly championing infrastructure development in Africa.  As a country we promote the North-South Corridor Road and Rail project as agreed among African leaders at the AU Summit last year.  There are various priority areas that might be of interest to the IBSA community (including the private sector) such as ICT, agriculture infrastructure, transport, energy, water and sanitation.  I am of the firm conviction that both IBSA and BRICS could play a substantial role in assisting the development of infrastructure in Africa to our mutual benefit.  President Zuma will propose an initiative in this regard at the Third BRICS Summit.

In South Africa, we value IBSA for the contribution it is making in helping our country realise its vision of a better life for all our people, in a better Africa and a better world.  We have identified five priorities that we have shared with Your Excellencies before which are in the areas of job creation, combating crime and corruption, providing accessible and quality health care and education to our people, and advancing rural development and land reform.  We are making progress in all these priority areas, but more must still be done! To that end, our Cabinet has declared 2011 the year of Job Creation through shared and sustainable growth. We know that you, Excellencies, as our partners in the IBSA, will be on our side, walking the road with us.

On the IBSA working methods, we must always improve and strive for excellence. Our Working Groups must set a good example in this regard.

The success of IBSA is critical to giving momentum to the emerging geo-strategic trend that is characterized by the increasing weight of developing countries in global affairs.  This is a welcome development for our vision of a better world.

To end, I would like to once again extend my warm appreciation and personal pleasure to participate in our meeting today and I am looking forward to our vibrant exchanges.

We are ready to receive all of you in South Africa for the 5th IBSA Summit!

Thank you.

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