Statement by the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, on international developments, 01 August 2014, OR Tambo Building

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Our briefing this morning will focus on the upcoming United States-Africa Leaders’ Summit, which is scheduled to take place in Washington DC, United States of America, on the 5th and 6th August 2014.

His Excellency President Jacob Zuma will lead the South African delegation to the United States-Africa Leaders’ Summit convened under the theme: “Investing in the Next Generation.

President Zuma’s delegation will include the Ministers of International Relations and Cooperation, Trade and Industry as well as Transport.

The US-Africa Leaders’ Summit (USALS) is one of the outcomes of the visit by the President of the United States, His Excellency Barack Obama to Africa in June-July 2013.

During his visit to three African countries, which included Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania, President Obama made an undertaking to African leaders that the US would host a US-Africa Leaders’ Summit to discuss issues of mutual interest.

The Summit will include, amongst other things, a Congressional Reception, the AGOA Ministerial Meeting, CEO Dinners and a Business Forum, culminating in the Heads of State Meeting on the 6th of August.

Preceding the US-Africa Summit, was the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Summit, which also took place in Washington DC, at which Summit President Obama honoured the late former President Nelson Mandela by renaming this initiative the “Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young Leaders”.

The theme of the Leaders’ Summit, which is “Investing in the Next Generation”, is intended to generate debate on how the USA and Africa can together sustain and advance Africa’s transformation.  The Summit will therefore focus on Trade and Investment, the promotion of sustainable development, peace and security issues, the sustenance of good governance and the advancement of human development.

The main outcomes envisaged from the Summit are:

  • Renewal of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) for another 15 years;

  • Increased support and capacity building for Africa’s Defence Architecture at regional and continental levels;

  • The establishment of US-Africa Infrastructure Development Fund of $100 Billion with a 50/50 contribution from Africa and the US in support of regional integration and Africa’s industrialisation;

  • Increased support for Africa’s energy projects  to overcome the energy deficit in Africa;

  • Consultative process with African countries in the selection of participants in the newly launched “Mandela Washington Fellowship” to reflect the Human Resource needs of the Continent and the spirit of Mandela; and

  • Continued development support for HIV, food security, and to ensure continued momentum for sustainable development goals.

Relations between South Africa and the United States have been very positive during the administrations of President Zuma and President Obama.

These relations were strengthened following the successful Official Visit by President Obama to South Africa in 2013, at the invitation of President Zuma.

The two Presidents held bilateral talks in Pretoria and discussed, amongst others, the status of bilateral relations; health; education; energy; safety and security cooperation; development assistance; as well as peace, security and development cooperation in Africa.

South Africa is looking to establish win-win partnerships which will help build the country skills base; transfer technology; create decent jobs; help create value-added exports; address inequalities in the country; promote inclusive growth and promotes regional integration.

We consider our bilateral relationship with the US as one such win-win partnership. Over the years, this partnership has been rapidly growing towards what we can regard as a strategic partnership.

The Obama Administration has expressed its willingness to partner with South Africa both domestically and regionally - and to support Africa-led initiatives.

In this regard, South Africa has impressed upon the United States the fact that successful economies have done so on the back of industrialisation. In our case, our economy needs to industrialise in order for us to achieve the goals that we have set for ourselves as outlined in the National Development Plan. The industrialisation of the economy is one of the priorities of the current term of government, with a focus on the following:

  • Attracting investments in labour-absorbing manufacturing, which is central to our export strategy based on value-added and job-creation potential. South Africa is open and ready to do business with the US.
  • Infrastructure development by leveraging our National Infrastructure Plan. Our investment in infrastructure development is continuing under the leadership of the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission chaired by the President.
  • Energy: the regulatory framework for investments in renewable energy has been improved in line with the Integrated Resource Plan for Energy to attract investments in solar, wind and biomass. In addition, nuclear energy and shale gas exploration will be fast-tracked. In this regard, South Africa welcomes the investments by entities such as Solar Reserve in the Northern Cape.  In return, we have also invested heavily in the US through the SASOL Gas-To-Liquids plan that we are putting up in Lake Charles, Louisiana.
  • Mining and agriculture are key job-drivers for South Africa. In the period ahead South Africa will increasingly focus on value-added agricultural exports, which will also provide opportunities for entrepreneurship.

The industrialisation of the South African economy is therefore a major strategic element of our overall policy thrust to re-set the trajectory of the economy on a higher plane: one which attracts investments of the sort which will transfer skills, create quality jobs, stimulate local manufacturing and increase value-added exports.

On the trade side, we continue to advocate for the speedy re-authorisation of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The AGOA framework is a central plank in both South Africa and Africa’s industrialisation strategies. 

AGOA’s renewal for a period of 10-15 years will provide Africa with the necessary stability, predictability and market access that is so crucial for our industries and small businesses to become competitive and sustainable.

South Africa’s graduation from AGOA would serve to undermine not only our domestic efforts at re-basing our economy to become a manufacturing and export hub in the sub-region, but also impede Africa’s broader regional integration strategies aimed at stimulating inter-Africa trade.

Africa is a Continent on the march towards realising economic development and prosperity for its citizens. The USA can help to fast-track this process by supporting Africa’s development plans and strategies which are coordinated through the African Union (AU) and its goals as outlined in our Agenda 2063 vision.

One component of the AU’s regional integration strategy, for example, is the Tripartite Free Trade Area (FTA) which will combine the three major regional economic communities of SADC, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the East African Community (EAC), comprising 600 million people and a combined GDP of USD$1 trillion.

As I conclude, I would like to reiterate that South Africa welcomes the holding of the first USA-Africa Leaders’ Summit. African nations and the USA have much to offer each other and all are striving for a more peaceful and democratic world in which justice and equity prevail and where poverty and underdevelopment are tackled in a substantial and results-oriented manner.

I thank you.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

OR Tambo Building
460 Soutpansberg Road
Rietondale
Pretoria
0084

 

 

 

 

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