Remarks by Hon. Luwellyn Landers, Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, on the occasion of the media briefing on international developments, Imbizo Media Centre, Parliament, Cape Town, 26 August 2015

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen of the media;

We invited you to this briefing today to share information on some of the work we are doing to advance our foreign policy objectives. Specifically, we will focus on:

1. The recent 35th SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government;

2. The launch of the South Africa-United Arab Emirates Joint Commission; and

3. The upcoming visit by His Excellency, President Zuma, to China.

1. SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government

The Republic of Botswana hosted the 35th Ordinary SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government from 17 to 18 August 2015 under the theme: “Accelerating Industrialisation of SADC Economies through Transformation of Natural Endowment and Improved Human Capital.”

President Zuma led a delegation to the Summit comprising of Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, Ministers Maite Nkoana-Mashabane (International Relations and Cooperation), David Mahlobo (State Security), Rob Davies (Trade and Industry) and Deputy Minister Mcebisi Jonas (Finance).

The Summit elected H.E. Lieutenant-General Seretse Khama Ian Khama, President of the Republic of Botswana, and His Majesty King Mswati III of the Kingdom of Swaziland, as Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of SADC respectively. The Double Troika Member States deliberated on the state of regional peace and security, and elected H.E. Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, President of the Republic of Mozambique, as the Chair of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation.

The Summit noted progress in the political and security situation in the Republic of Madagascar, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Kingdom of Lesotho.

The Summit approved the SADC Regional Counter-Terrorism Strategy to collectively address threats of both international and domestic terrorism in a coordinated manner. Issues of macroeconomic convergence, Member States’ economic reforms and plans to combat challenges to regional sustainable economic growth were also identified as critical towards economic integration endeavours.

Following the endorsement at the April 2015 Extraordinary Summit of the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (2015-2020) and the Regional Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap (2015-2063), Member States were urged to commit towards implementation of these plans.

In order to support industrialisation, SADC must also concentrate on infrastructure development. Financing remains a key challenge towards this realisation and as such alternative sources of funding should be explored for presentation at the August 2016 summit, to be held in the Kingdom of Swaziland.

The continued focus on Regional Industrialisation as informed by the August 2014 and the last Summit highlights the necessity to boost intra-regional trade, development and integration.  SADC Member States need to increase and diversify production, especially in the manufacturing sector. Regional integration efforts have been further strengthened by the June 2015 signing of the SADC-EAC-COMESA Tripartite Free Trade Agreement which paves the way for negotiations on a Continental Free Trade Area envisaged to be concluded in 2017.

2. South Africa-United Arab Emirates Joint Commission

The inaugural meeting of the Joint Commission between South Africa and the United Arab Emirates is scheduled to take place on 31 August 2015 and will be co-chaired by Minister Nkoana-Mashabane and Minister Hashimi.

The Joint Commission will provide the two countries the opportunity to review bilateral relations and deliberate on proposals for enhanced and new areas of cooperation. This follows the conclusion of the Agreement on the establishment of a Joint Commission during the State Visit to the UAE by His Excellency President Jacob Zuma in 2011.

South Africa and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have maintained a good relationship since formal diplomatic ties were first established in 1994. The relationship has a strong economic focus, and the UAE is already a lucrative export market for South African products, while many South African companies are benefitting from opportunities in the UAE in a variety of sectors.

Worth noting is the sharp increase in total trade between South Africa and the UAE with exports to the UAE increasing by over R4 billion year-on-year in 2014, whilst imports from the UAE year-on-year also increased by over R4 billion. This is a positive trajectory of the potential for enhancing trade between the two countries.

The visit to the UAE will also present an opportunity to exchange views on recent political developments in the Middle East and Africa.

3. Visit by President Zuma to China

President Jacob Zuma has been invited by His Excellency Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China, to participate in celebrations in Beijing on 03 September 2015 to mark the 70th Anniversary of the End of the Occupation of China and the Second World War.

Apart from participating in the celebrations to mark the 70th Anniversary of the end of the Occupation of China and the Second World War, it is expected that President Zuma and his delegation will also assess the status of progress on the key areas identified under the Five-to-Ten Year Strategic Programme for Cooperation and discuss preparations for South Africa’s hosting of the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Summit on 04-05 December 2015.

South Africa’s relations with China are at the level of a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP), with the bilateral relationship being among the most vibrant and strategic. During the State Visit of President Zuma to China in December 2014, the two countries concluded the “Five-to-Ten Year Strategic Programme for Cooperation” between the Republic of South Africa and the People’s Republic of China”. Six priority areas were identified as the focus of the strategic relationship for 2015.

These are (1) Alignment of industries to accelerate South Africa’s industrialization process; (2) Enhancement of cooperation in Special Economic Zones (SEZs); (3) Enhancement of marine cooperation; (4) Infrastructure development; (5) Human resource cooperation; and (6) Financial cooperation.

Before concluding, I wish you remind you that China hosts the headquarters of the recently launched BRICS Development Bank, based in Shanghai, whilst South Africa will host the regional office of the Bank, to be based in Johannesburg. At the recent BRICS Summit held in, Ufa, Russia, the BRICS Leaders said: “We reiterate that the New Development Bank shall serve as a powerful instrument for financing infrastructure investment and sustainable development projects in the BRICS and other developing countries and emerging market economies and for enhancing economic cooperation between our countries.”

I thank you.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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