Address by Deputy Minister Landers to the Economic Seminar hosted by the Directorate General for International Economic Relations of Chile (DIRECON) and the South African Embassy in Chile, 05 March 2015, Santiago, Chile
HE Mr. Andrés Rebolledo - the Director General of International Economic Affairs (DIRECON)
Ms Yolisa Maya - DDG Americas - Europe and the Caribbean
Ambassador Hilton Fisher
Mr Rafael Sabat - International Director of ProChile
Mr Pablo Urria -Director of Bilateral Economic Affairs – DIRECON
Mr Ben Joubert – Acting Chief Director
Government officials from both South Africa and Chile
Members of the Business Community who have graced this occasion
Our dependable translators
It is indeed a singular pleasure for me to give the first keynote address in this important gathering because it is the correct response to the direction that President Zuma gave to all South African Ambassadors when he addressed them at the September 2014 Heads of Mission conference:
“Let me confirm that the economy is the apex priority of our country over the next five years. We must put all our efforts into promoting a positive environment for economic growth and development if we are to break the back of poverty, unemployment and inequality.”
President Zuma went on to unpack exactly what he meant,
“Given that the economy is an apex priority, it follows that our Heads of Mission should prepare themselves for vigorous marketing and trade promotion over the next five years. We want to open more opportunities abroad for our goods and services and also want to attract more investments towards our country in the next five years.”
During her State Visit to South Africa, President Bachelet expressed almost the same sentiments,
“We can and should take advantage of all the possibilities offered by our economies to complement each other.”
On several occasions over the past 2 years representatives of the Department of Trade and Industry (the DTI) have visited Chile to explore opportunities for further expansion of South African exports to Chile and potential Chilean investments into South Africa. A key highlight was the successful selling mission from South Africa to Chile during the second half of 2014. We have also created momentum for increased political consultations (for example, President Zuma’s planned visit to Chile) and economic consultations (an example of which is the planned selling mission for November 2015). I am pleased to be here in Chile to co-chair the Joint Consultative Mechanism which is part of the process of deepening political ties and consequently paving the way for deeper economic co-operation.
The Embassy of South Africa and its valued partners, inter alia, the Directorate General for International Economic Relations of Chile (DIRECON), the Chile-South Africa Chamber of Commerce and South African related businesses operating in Chile, through their various activities are expected to realise substantial growth in bilateral trade in the next years. There is yet much work to be done. Our deliberations here today will focus on ways to consolidate existing ties, especially in the mining, engineering and agro-processing sectors. Let me assure you that South Africa is always open for business with every economic sector and a wide range of opportunities awaiting international investors. Similar to Chile, the country fosters a culture of innovation, and research and development. We are indeed looking forward to consolidating our economic relationship with one of South America’s strongest economies and expanding trade relations in the future.
To this end the inaugural Joint Trade and Investment Commission (JTIC) that was held in November 2014 in Santiago, determined key areas of co-operation. The identification of areas of common interest such as Trade and Investment Promotion Missions; Business Seminar’s; Private Sector Missions; and Exchange of information on the respective economies directly address our common goals. In addition, the trade facilitation initiative agreed to, by the JTIC to conduct a joint study to enhance trade and economic relations between South Africa and Chile.
In this regard, JTIC committed to accelerate focused economic cooperation so as to achieve a more equitable and enhanced trade. The deepened efforts for collaboration by the JTIC will provide an additional platform towards accelerating our respective economic agenda’s.
Chile and South Africa will also continue to pursue opportunities in our various countries by reciprocally attending trade fairs and shows. To this end, South Africa will once again exhibit at the EXPONOR. Chile will this year participate in the SAITEX in Johannesburg and will re-open their Commercial Office in South Africa.
As is evident from the fore-going we are giving credence to the direction that the two Presidents gave us, namely, to place the pursuit of economic diplomacy at the core of our diplomatic relations so that we can address the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality that, albeit at different levels, confront most countries of the South and, for that matter, those of the North.
In fact, our common commitment to the actualisation of South-South relations obliges us to “complement each other’s economies.”
This approach is consistent with objectives of South-South relations as articulated by the United Nations’ Office for South-South Cooperation:
- Strengthen the capacity of developing countries to identify and analyse together their main development issues and formulate the requisite strategies to address them;
- Foster the self-reliance of developing countries to identify and analyse together their main development issues and formulate the requisite strategies to address them;
- Promote and strengthen collective self-reliance among developing countries through the exchange of experiences; and
- Sharing and use of their technical resources and the development of their complementary capacity.
What fascinates me most about these objectives is the emphasis on the leading role that developing countries play in carving and nurturing this relationship so that it covers different areas that are crucial to their individual and collective development. There is also an emphasis on self-reliance through exchange of experiences and, as already sighted from the words of President Bachelet, development of complementary capacities.
The obvious benefit of this approach is, amongst others, promotion and strengthening of economic integration among developing countries.
I therefore have no doubt that in our engagement today we will be frank, robust and yet constructive. This implies that as we exchange economic information, identify the blockages that hold our economic cooperation back, as we pinpoint the challenges that prevent us from taking our trade relations to, not just the next level but to a higher level, we will do so driven by a quest to find practical and speedy ways to overcome all the hurdles we shall have identified.
I want to submit that we have an obligation to be solution-oriented in our engagement particularly that our presidents who both are serving their second terms will be meeting sometime this year when President Zuma honours the commitment he made to undertake a State Visit to Chile in 2015. We therefore have no choice but to make the meeting of the Presidents worthwhile by making sure that concrete achievements are made and that tangible strides are taken in strengthening not just the political but also the economic relationship between the two countries.
To this end, I took a conscious decision to keep my speech short so as to afford more time to what I earlier referred to as frank, robust and yet constructive engagement.
Let me conclude by saying that this year marks a watershed moment in the relationship between South Africa and Chile. This by extension means, every meeting between officials from the two countries should be regarded as a key step towards the imminent revelation whose climax will be the meeting and, more importantly the announcements that will be made by the two presidents at the conclusion of their meeting.
I am confident we will all grab this opportunity to positively contribute to this long overdue engagement with humility and prudence. I wish you success in today’s seminar.
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