International Cooperation, Trade and Security Cluster Media Briefing, 23 February 2016

“Create a better South Africa; contribute to a better and safer Africa in a better world”

Ministers and Deputy Ministers
Directors-General
Senior managers
Members of the media
Ladies and gentlemen.

Welcome to the International Cooperation, Trade and Security (ICTS) Cluster media briefing following President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation Address (SoNA) to Parliament in Cape Town on Thursday, 11 February 2016.

The ICTS Cluster is responsible for the implementation of the Medium Term Strategic Framework: 2014 – 2019 commitments, as articulated in Outcome 11. Our vision is to “Create a better South Africa, contribute to a better and safer Africa in a better world”.Government fulfils its commitments through the cluster system that promotes coordination and integration of interrelated functions to accelerate service delivery.

This media briefing aims to amplify the pronouncements made by President Zuma in his SoNA, in relation to the ICTS Cluster.

During 2015, we sharpened our focus on economic diplomacy to strengthen relations that will bring foreign investment and help us to address the triple challenge of poverty, unemployment and inequality. This focus has led to a number of partnerships with like-minded countries and significant funds have been committed towards African development by our international partners.

SOUTH AFRICA’S PRIORITIES ENHANCED IN BILATERAL AND MULTILATERAL ENGAGEMENTS

We ended the year 2015 by hosting the State Visit by the President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, which took place on the eve of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Summit during which a number of agreements were concluded.

President Zuma took part in the 2016 World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos with a delegation comprising Ministers and business leaders. The WEF was an important platform to promote and profile South Africa’s attractiveness as an investment destination of choice. Building on WEF Africa, this delegation took a united message to WEF Davos that South Africa is open for business. Despite challenges in the global economy, South Africa remains a competitive business and investment destination. In the first three quarters of the current financial year South Africa attracted R64.3 billion in Foreign Direct Investment pipeline, far surpassing the target of R45 billion. For a citizen, the investments mean an opportunity to work, to develop their skills, earn a sustainable income and feed a family.  

Participation in multilateral institutions

Some of our achievements include the work we have been doing with multilateral institutions.

The Minister of Environmental Affairs, Mrs Edna Molewa, led the South African delegation to the twenty first session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and eleventh Meeting of the Parties serving as the Conference of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (UNFCCC COP 21/CMP11). This global conference, which took place from 30 November - 12 December 2015 in Paris, France, led to the adoption by consensus of the Paris Agreement and a package of supporting decisions, addressing climate action in both the pre-and-post 2020 periods. President Jacob Zuma delivered the South African national statement, held bilateral meetings and was accorded the special honour by the French President of chairing a full session of the leaders’ event. This was in recognition of President Zuma’s special role as initiator of the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action, under which the Paris negotiations took place, as well as a key contributor to broader United Nations processes on environment and sustainable development.

South Africa participated in these negotiations as Chair of the Group of 77 and China, whose 136 members represent well over 80% of the world’s population, as well as in its role as a member of the Africa Group of Negotiators (AGN), the Brazil, South Africa, India and China group (BASIC) and in its national capacity. Minister Molewa led the G77 and China at the ministerial-level meetings in Paris, while Ambassador Nozipho Mxakato-Diseko, Deputy Director-General: Global Governance and Continental Agenda at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), chaired the Group for all other meetings during 2015. South Africa drafted key text that helped forge the political deal underpinning the legal agreement and also made successful interventions on process. Under South Africa’s Chair the G77 and China demonstrated unprecedented unity, which resulted in securing the best deal possible for developing countries.

The successful finalization of the Paris Agreement is extremely significant for South Africa as we strive to enhance our efforts to transition to a lower carbon economy and society, as well as to adapt in the short, medium and long term to the impacts of increasing temperatures, and reduced rainfall in many parts of the country.

South Africa also assumed a seat on the UN Broadband Commission which noted that 3.2 billion people are connected to the internet. The Commission is now focused on finding ways to connect the next 4 billion people mostly in underdeveloped areas and trying to bring down the costs to connect them.

South Africa is implementing the roll-out of broadband to ensure that all our citizens are able to use the transformative power of the Internet to keep pace with global developments and market their businesses internationally. We want to ensure that ultimately, access to broadband is at competitive prices as we move to lower the costs of doing business in South Africa.

In his State of the Nation Address, President Zuma emphasised that the African continent remains central to our foreign policy engagements. South Africa hosted the Summit of African Union (AU) Heads of State and Government in June 2015. At that time the negotiations for a Continental Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) were launched. The CFTA will also follow the developmental integration approach for which South Africa has consistently been advocating. The developmental integration agenda is premised on three pillars: market integration complemented by the concurrent pillars of industrial and infrastructure development.

More recently, the President and senior officials attended the Summit of the AU on its 24th Ordinary Session in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 30-31 January 2016. The AU launched the theme: “Year of Women’s Empowerment and Development towards Africa’s Agenda 2063.” This year’s Human Rights Day on 21 March will be commemorated as the national day against racism and also looking at the Human Rights Empowerment to Women.

South Africa’s plans are underway to domesticate and align Agenda 2063 and the first Ten-Year Implementation Plan. This is response to the Summit call for all AU Organs and continental institutions to align their Strategic and Master Plans to the 1st Ten Year Implementation Plan and ensure maximum coordination in its implementation, in the spirit of complementarity and subsidiarity.

South Africa also participated in the important World Radiocommunications Conference, which took place in November 2015. This conference agreed on new allocations and reassignment for spectrum for critical services. We are happy to announce that South Africa was successful in advancing its national position. The outcomes of which have positive benefits for the national priorities including universal broadband roll-out, universal broadcasting roll-out, satellite communication services, aircraft services, maritime and the ocean economy programmes, environmental public protection and disaster relief, emergency services and security services, as well as other future programmes to support economic transformation and to realise the National Development Plan (NDP) objectives.

A strong, mutually beneficial South-South Cooperation

South Africa participated in the India-Africa Summit held in New Delhi, India from 26 to 30 October 2015 and the FOCAC hosted in Johannesburg from 4 to 5 December 2015 as we strengthened these important partnerships. China announced investments of US$50 billion of which South Africa will receive US$10 billion for infrastructure, industrialisation and skills development.

The Preferential Trade Agreement between Southern African Customs Union (SACU) and the Southern Common Market (Mercosur), comprising Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, has now been ratified by all member states and this agreement is expected to enter into force in the first semester of 2016. The agreement will offer new market access opportunities for South African exports and also strengthen our South-South Cooperation.

Economic cooperation with our Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRICS) partners was strengthened when the first two intergovernmental agreements were concluded on the occasion of the sixth BRICS Summit. These were the Agreement on the New Development Bank (NDB) and the Treaty Establishing a Contingent Reserve Arrangement. The NDB will approve its inaugural projects during 2016.

South Africa participated at the inaugural BRICS Ministers of Communications whose aims include demonopolising the electronic manufacturing sector, opening their markets to each other and increasing cooperation amongst each other.

Strong, mutually beneficial and strategic formations with the North

Countries of the developed North remain important strategic partners for South Africa.

We continue our engagements with the EU as a bloc (28 members), which is our largest trading partner and foreign investor. Over 2 000 EU companies operating within South Africa have created over 350 000 jobs. The EU also contributes 100 million Euros (about R1.5 billion) to infrastructure development for domestic and regional programmes through the Infrastructure Investment Programme. In 2015 South African exports to the EU amounted to more than R216 billion, of which half are manufactured goods.

The legal scrubbing of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the Southern African Development Community (SADC) EPA group and the EU was concluded in October 2015. The agreement will be put forward for ratification within the next few months. This agreement brings improved market access for some South African products into the EU, beyond that which was enjoyed under the earlier South Africa-EU Trade, Development and Cooperation Agreement.

Furthermore, AGOA was re-authorised in June 2015 for 10 years until 2025, with South Africa’s inclusion. This will secure continued market access for South African products, including in value added generating sectors such as agriculture and automobiles. South Africa and the United States (US) have now resolved all outstanding issues relating to the agricultural imports from the US, paving way for continuation of AGOA benefits for South Africa’s agricultural exports into the US market. South Africa is working with relevant stakeholders to facilitate the first shipment of US poultry imports under the agreed quota.

South Africa and the US have recommitted themselves to work towards resolving issues affecting South Africa’s agricultural exports into the US. The affected agricultural exports include, among others, citrus, avocadoes, litchis, beef, mutton and racehorses.

The renewal of AGOA beyond September 2015 and a pledge to support African-led peace initiatives in the continent are among the significant outcomes of the US-Africa Leadership Summit held in the US last year.

A SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPED AND ECONOMICALLY INTEGRATED AFRICA

Economically, regional economic integration efforts have gained considerable momentum through the launch of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa-East African Community-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area (FTA) in June 2015 in Sharm El Sheik, Egypt. The Tripartite FTA comprises of combined markets of 26 countries. The combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of these countries in 2014 was estimated at US$1.3 trillion and amount to 58% of Africa’s GDP.

Efforts are underway to also engage in the Continental FTA negotiations launched by the Assembly in June 2015, which will integrate all the AU member states with a market of over one billion people with a projected GDP of approximately US$3.4 trillion by 2017.

The year will also seek to explore more business and developmental opportunities, and demonstrate South Africa’s innovations, and best practices in various areas such as science and technology, fashion, mining, arts, culture, tourism and greater people to people interaction.

Member states were also encouraged to urgently develop a continental initiative on Critical Technical Skills, and to prioritise investments in the development of skills, especially in the areas of science and technology, essential for implementing Agenda 2063, including vocational skills and trade technicians, and the design and management of large-scale projects.

AN ECONOMICALLY INTEGRATED SOUTHERN AFRICA

Closer to home, South Africa assumed the position of Chair of the SACU in June 2015. Following a special meeting of the Council of Ministers and Heads of State and Government in November 2015, there is agreement to convene a Retreat in April 2016 to give strategic direction to the implementation of the six-point work programme. This will be followed by a Summit of SACU Heads of State and Government by June 2016.

In SADC, the review of the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan was completed and adopted by an Extraordinary SADC Summit in April 2015. In the area of economic integration, industrial development was given centre stage and is being front-loaded in the implementation plan.

It is important that all partners develop their industrial sectors in order to benefit fully from integration initiatives. In further elaboration of this new orientation, the SADC has also developed a regional industrialisation strategy. As a final component of that work, the action plan of the strategy is currently being developed.

A PEACEFUL, SECURE AND STABLE AFRICA

President Zuma stated in the State of the Nation Address that: “South Africa continued to support peace and security and regional economic integration through participation in the AU and the SADC initiatives.”

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and South African Police Service continue to participate diligently in conflict prevention and peacekeeping in the continent. The SANDF continues to participate in the UN Peace Support Operation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) (Operation Mistral), the UN/AU Hybrid Peace Support Operation in the Sudan (Operation Cordite).

The Force Intervention Brigade which the SANDF is part of had a very successful operation which saw the biggest armed group in the eastern DRC M23 surrendering.

In December 2015, one of our own Lieutenant Generals (Lt Gen) Derrick Mgwebi was appointed as the new Force Commander of the UN Mission in the DRC, called MONUSCO. He takes over command of a 20 000-strong UN Mission in the eastern part of the DRC. This is the largest UN peace-support operation in the African continent and the world.

The SANDF, under operation Team Bulisa, has assisted with the development and completion of the Military Strategy of the Armed Forces of the DRC. This is part of capacity building that the SANDF is involved in, with other defence forces of the region through defence cooperation.  

Maritime security continues to be the other key operation for the SANDF in the east coast of the continent. The SANDF successfully deployed two ships, SAS Spioenkop and SAS Galeshewe on Operation Copper in the Mozambique Channel at alternating times during the reporting period. The SANDF has been in the Mozambique Channel since 2011. They carried out operations to counter piracy activities and there has been a drastic reduction of piracy in the Mozambique Channel.

South Africa’s efforts have resulted, amongst others, to a number of key outcomes such as the operationalization of the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises (ACIRC), of which South Africa is a contributing and founding member.

South Africa continued to support peace and security, and regional economic integration by participating in the AU and the SADC initiatives. Following the operationalisation of the ACIRC we hosted the AMANI AFRICA II Field Training Exercise (19 October – 7 November 2015) to test its full operational capability as a build-up to the operationalisation of the African Standby Force. The success of this exercise was a significant milestone in our quest to fully operationalize the African Peace and Security Architecture.

The South African Government will continue to contribute to peacekeeping on the continent through various peacekeeping missions. Our involvement in peacekeeping missions is premised on our appreciation that Africa’s economic development depends on the substance of peace and stability.

Working in partnership with regional and international partners and as a member of the AU Peace and Security Council, South Africa continue to play a critical role in the restoration of peace and stability in the DRC, Burundi, Central African Republic, Libya, South Sudan and other conflict-torn countries.

POLITICAL COHESION WITHIN SOUTHERN AFRICA TO ENSURE A PEACEFUL, SECURE AND STABLE SOUTHERN AFRICAN REGION

At regional level, South Africa Chaired the SADC Organ on Peace, Security and Defence Cooperation from August 2014 to August 2015 and led SADC Electoral Observer Missions to Mozambique, Botswana, Namibia, Mauritius, Zambia and the Kingdom of Lesotho. It is worth noting that all these elections were declared peaceful, credible, transparent, free and fair.

The elections in Lesotho were a culmination of the successful facilitation by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa under the auspices of the SADC. South Africa also continued with the regional peace and security initiatives in the Republic of Madagascar and the DRC.

South Africa will continue to support conflict-resolution initiatives in Lesotho, Sri Lanka and South Sudan, led by the Deputy President as Special Envoy of the President.

TOURISM CONTRIBUTION TO THE SOUTH AFRICAN ECONOMY

Tourism remains a key driver of our national economy. The sector contributes about nine per cent of our GDP. The country received a total of 8 903 773 foreign tourist arrivals during 2015, generating a significant revenue contribution to the economy.

Last year, the tourism sector raised concerns about the impact of new immigration regulations that were introduced to combat child trafficking and improve security at our country’s points of entry. We listened to these concerns. We committed ourselves to finding a better balance between our security and our economic development interests.

An Inter-Ministerial Committee on Immigration Regulations, chaired by Deputy President Ramaphosa, brought several government departments together to find this balance.

Cabinet has approved several measures to make it easier for tourists coming to South Africa to apply for visas and to travel with children. At the same time, we have ensured that the safety of all children and the security of our country is not compromised. We are confident that tourism will continue to contribute significantly to our economy as the revised measures are implemented.

Several skills-development and capacity-building programmes are underway to unlock the full potential of tourism. These include training 577 young people as chefs this year, instructing 300 youths in the art of serving wine expertly as professional Sommeliers, and teaching unemployed graduates to become Food Safety Assurers, who ensure that the food served at our establishments is stored, prepared and served safely.

Over 1,6 million local and international tourists visited the Kruger National Park in 2015. They enjoyed the magnificent biodiversity of one of the world’s leading successes in wildlife conservation. An additional access point into the Kruger National Park will be developed near Muyexe in Limpopo. The new Shangoni Gate will improve access to the park, and it will provide economic opportunities for local communities by producing arts and crafts, providing supplies, operating tours and other hospitality services.

The Department of Tourism is implementing revised Tourism Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Codes of Good Practice. The black ownership target has been set at 30%, which is higher than the target in the generic codes of good practice to assist in our efforts to drive transformation in the sector. To address women empowerment, this 30% must consist of 50% women and 50% men.

South Africans and international tourists should visit our important cultural and heritage sites, and our beautiful landscapes and diverse attractions. Access to these sites is being improved as part of a broader strategy to create a culture of travel among our people.

The tourism industry is a major contributor to the South African economy and employment of our citizens. This shows that ongoing efforts to showcase our country as a tourist, investment and destination of choice are bearing much-needed fruits during this low global economic outlook.

The Nation Brands Index recognises South Africa as amongst the top 50 most globally competitive countries in the world. The Index looks at six pillars of the brand of a nation with a number of criteria – the pillars include: tourism, people, exports, immigration and investment, governance, and culture and heritage. The Nation Brands Index is the result of 20 342 interviews in 20 countries. According to the Index, South Africa’s strengths are seen as sports – particularly football, pristine landscapes and game reserves. Participants in the survey also indicated that the citizens of South Africa are described as, amongst others, desirable friends, good employees, hardworking and skillful. This demonstrates that South Africa has so much good to offer. We call on South Africans to work much harder at promoting the nation’s brand abroad.

CONCLUSION

The year 2015 was a special year for international relations as it marked 70 years of existence of the UN. South Africa used the occasion to continue to advocate for the reform of the Global System of Governance, particularly the UN Security Council and the Bretton Woods institutions.

South Africa’s international relations engagements will continue to be based on South Africa’s national priorities and the pursuit of continental aspirations.

Domestically, 2015 marked the 60th anniversary of the Freedom Charter, which called for peace and friendship among nations. President Zuma stated that “we are proud of our democracy and what we have achieved in a short space of time. Our democracy is functional, solid and stable.” This year we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa of 1996.

Building on this strong foundation, we are resolute in our determination to create a better South Africa; contribute to a better and safer Africa in a better world.”

Together, let’s move South Africa forward.

I thank you

 

 

 

 

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