Media Statement by the Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Mr Ebrahim Ebrahim, on developments in the international relations field, 29 October 2012

Good morning ladies and gentlemen of the media,

Our briefing today will focus on a few matters, including the meeting of the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation, which South Africa will attend; the 5th BRICS Summit, which South Africa will host in March 2013; and, finally, we will make a few announcements about some of the important events we will host in the near future.

1. Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC) 12th Council of Ministers Meeting

Let me begin by announcing that I will be travelling to Gurgaon, India to participate in the 12th Meeting of the Council of Ministers of the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC), scheduled for 29 October – 02 November 2012.

I will be supported by Officials from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, as well as representatives from the Departments of Tourism, Transport and Higher Education South Africa (HESA).

South Africa is one of the founding Member States of the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC).  The Association was launched in Mauritius on 6-7 March 1997.

There are 19 Indian Ocean Rim Association  Member States, i.e. Australia, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Oman, Singapore, Seychelles, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

The objectives of the IOR Association are:

  • To promote the sustained growth and balanced development of the region and of the Member States, and to create common ground for regional economic  co-operation;

  • To formulate and implement projects for economic co-operation relating to trade facilitation and liberalization; promotion of foreign investment; academic, scientific and  technological exchanges; tourism; and the development of infrastructure and human resources;  and

  • To strengthen co-operation and dialogue among Member States in international fora on global economic and multilateral issues.

The forthcoming meeting of the Council of Ministers will see India completing its first year as Chair of the IOR-ARC during which the following priority areas were adopted by Council:

  • Maritime Security and Safety within the IOR Region;

  • Trade and Investment Facilitation;

  • Fisheries Management;

  • Disaster Risk Reduction;

  • Academic and Science & Technology Cooperation;

  • Tourism Promotion and Cultural Exchanges.

2. BRICS Summit, March 2013

India and South Africa are not only members of the IOR Association but are also Members of BRICS.

In this regard, I will discuss with my Indian counterpart, South Africa’s readiness to host the BRICS Summit in March 2013.

Staying with the Asian region, the fourth annual Africa and South East Asia (AfricSEA) Business Forum will take place on 01 and 02 November 2012 at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg.

The Forum, a first of its kind in South Africa, looks to offer Asian investors new investment opportunities in Africa.

The AfricSEA Business Forum has partnered with the BRICS 2013 team from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation to use this Forum as a build-up to the BRICS conference and place Africa as an investment destination.

Africa is rich in opportunities and potential. It is home to seven out of ten of the world’s fastest growing economies. Many African countries have created an enabling investment environment and Asian countries such as China and India, have become a major source of foreign direct investment in Africa.

One of the issues that the Business Forum will explore is how Africa interacts with the BRICS in the context of strengthening of South-South cooperation. In this regard, it is expected that Minister Nkoana-Mashabane will participate in the Business Forum on 01 November 2012.

Members of the Media,

As part of DIRCO’s outreach programmes, I delivered a public lecture last week at the University of Johannesburg, Soweto Campus, entitled “Reflections on BRICS: Prospects for South Africa and Africa.”

I announced to the students that DIRCO will be partnering with the Department of Higher Education and Training with Higher Education South Africa (HESA) to host the Fifth BRICS Academic Forum, a few weeks prior to the Summit.

I also briefly touched on the Feasibility Study which BRICS Leaders tasked their respective Finance Ministers to undertake in respect of setting up a new Development Bank for mobilizing resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging economies and developing countries, to supplement the existing efforts of multilateral and regional financial institutions for global growth and development.

As you are aware, the Finance Ministers will deliver this report at the Fifth BRICS Summit. I can indicate that two meetings of technical expert working groups in this regard have already taken place in August and October 2012.

With regard to logistical preparations for the Summit, we are at an advanced stage and several regional meetings are taking place with Senior Officials from the BRICS countries on issues to be deliberated at the Summit.

This morning, the BRICS Inter-Ministerial Committee met to discuss progress with regard to logistics for the Summit. As you know, the Committee is made up of 16 Cabinet Ministers, including the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, the host Province for the Summit.

3. Upcoming events

Tomorrow, Minister Nkoana-Mashabane will host her Zimbabwean counterpart, Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, for the Fourth Session of the Joint Commission for Cooperation (JCC) between South Africa and Zimbabwe. The Senior Officials Meeting commenced today.

South Africa and Zimbabwe formalised their structured bilateral cooperation with the signing of an Agreement establishing the Joint Commission for Cooperation in 1995. The JCC Agreement seeks to promote political, economic and social cooperation between the two countries.

South Africa and Zimbabwe not only enjoy historical political cooperation but also enjoy strong economic cooperation. Trade cooperation between the two countries is high to the extent that South African exports to Zimbabwe amounted to approximately R13.3 billion in 2009, R15 billion in 2010 and R16 billion in 2011 thus firmly placing Zimbabwe among South Africa’s top trading partners.

Following the SA-Zimbabwe JCC, the Minister will co-chair the SA-Argentina Bi-National Commission with her Argentine counterpart, Foreign Affairs Minister Hector Timerman. The Commission is scheduled for 01-02 November 2012 in Pretoria.

Preparations are also underway for the State Visit to South Africa by H.E Mr Hifikepunye Pohamba, the President of the Republic Of Namibia, scheduled for 06-07 November 2012 in Cape Town. It is expected that the President Pohamba will address a Joint Sitting of Parliament during his visit.

Issued by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation

OR Tambo Building
460 Soutpansberg Road
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