Media Remarks by International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane on International Developments, DIRCO, Pretoria, Monday, 04 July 2016
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen of the media.
When we presented the Budget Speech of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation to Parliament in May 2016, we said we will continue during the course of this financial year to pursue our foreign policy objectives, which include consolidating the African Agenda and strengthening consolidating South-South relations. The briefing today is a testimony of this undertake.
VISIT OF THE INDIAN PRIME MINISTER
South Africa’s historic bilateral relations with India as well as the work we do with India and other developing nations in various multilateral forum constitute a key element of our efforts to consolidate South-South relations. Accordingly, Prime Minister Modi of India has accepted an invitation from President Zuma to pay an Official Visit to South Africa from 7 – 9 July 2016.
Full diplomatic relations between South Africa and India were established in November 1993. The first visit by a South African Head of State to India took place in 1997 when President Mandela laid the foundation for the strategic partnership between the two countries with the signing of the Red Fort Declaration.
Our bilateral relations with India are structured via a Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC) and Foreign Office Consultations (FOC) which is held at a senior officials’ level; and both mechanisms meet annually.
The last JMC took place in Durban in May 2015 and was chaired by myself and my colleague, External Affairs Minister Swaraj. A Five-Year Strategic Framework of Cooperation was agreed upon which highlighted five immediate priorities, namely cooperation in the field of deep mining, agro-processing, the financial and defence sector and infrastructure development.
The official talks due to take place on 8 July 2016 will focus on strengthening our bilateral relations and both leaders will reflect on progress made regarding the implementation of decisions of the JMC, as well as to identify new areas cooperation. A number of bilateral agreements and memoranda of understanding (MoUs) are currently under consideration. Some will be concluded during the visit of the Prime Minister and others will be finalised in the next few months.
The areas of cooperation covered by these instruments include: Information Communication Technology; Tourism; Sport; Culture; Grassroots Innovation; Renewable Energy, Audio-Visual and Visa Simplification Procedures.
The agenda will also focus on the extensive multilateral cooperation which exists between South Africa and India, as many of the foreign policy objectives which both countries share are pursued multilaterally, especially through South-South initiatives.
South Africa and India are both committed to the BRICS; the India Brazil South Africa Dialogue Forum (IBSA); the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA); the BASIC group of countries, the G77 plus China, the Non Aligned Movement (NAM), the Commonwealth and the G20.
As leaders of the Global South, South Africa and India are committed to addressing the common challenges of inequality, unemployment and poverty that are still too prevalent on both our continents.
In addition, both countries continue to advance the centrality of the UN and other multilateral fora in resolving issues of global concern. South Africa also looks forward to attending the BRICS Summit that India will be hosting as Chair of BRICS this year from 15 – 16 October 2016 in Goa, under the theme “Building Responsible, Inclusive and Collective Solutions.”
President Zuma and Prime Minister Modi will also reflect on the outcomes of the Third India-Africa Summit Forum which took place in New Delhi from in October 2015. The outcomes of the Summit included the undertaking to cooperate in the implementation of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and to better align cooperation in identified sectors including skills development, the health sector, renewable energy and infrastructure development on the Continent.
India and SA are amongst the world’s leading developing economies globally and increased business cooperation between the two sides is pivotal in ensuring they capitalise on the myriad of economic opportunities that exists between them. To this end the South Africa-India CEOs Forum was established to support continuous dialogue between the South African and Indian business community and facilitate implementation of bilateral business projects.
Bilateral trade with India exceeded the R94 billion mark in 2015, with South Africa exporting R41 billion worth of goods and importing R53, 7 billion of trade - the trade balance thus being in India’s favour. While trade has increased steadily over the last few years, considerable scope exists to grow trade further.
India’s economy is expected to grow by 7.5% in 2016 to 7.7% in 2017 and it is currently the fastest growing major economy in the world. The Indian middle class is expanding rapidly and at present stands at over 400 million people. South Africa is therefore looking to strengthen commercial relations with India by focussing on the export of value added and manufactured goods, as well as the services sector.
There are more than 100 Indian companies that have invested in South Africa. Some major South African companies have also invested in India.
Lastly, the visit will serve to further strengthen the excellent people-to-people contact between our countries so as to ensure that the historic relations that were forged so many years ago remain current and substantial.
STATE VISIT TO FRANCE
At the invitation of French President Francois Hollande, President Jacob Zuma will undertake a State Visit to France on 11 July 2016. The date was determined to coincide with South Africa’s Centenary Commemoration of the Battle of Delville Wood, over which President Zuma will preside on 12 July 2016. The theme of the visit is: “Working together as equal partners to explore opportunities and address the challenges of the 21st Century”.
South Africa and France cooperate in areas such as energy, maritime, agriculture, science and technology, education, arts and culture, defence with an opportunity to expand in some areas. To this effect, the Presidents will witness the signing of a number of instruments during the State Visit.
There will also be a ceremonial handing over of the digitised Rivonia Trial Dictabelts (recording) to President Zuma.
The two Presidents will use the opportunity to exchange views on peace and security as well as development in both their regions, with particular emphasis on support for the implementation of Agenda 2063. The two countries will further explore working together on global challenges including in areas such as Illicit Financial Flows, Climate Change, UN Security Council Reform, Migration and Terrorism.
France remains an important source of foreign direct investment for South Africa. During the period of 2004-2015 inward investments from France amounted to over R24.31 billion creating around 4 499 jobs. In 2015, the overall volume of trade totalled R33.6 billion with imports amounting to R24.49 billion, and exports amounting to R9.11 billion. According to the Department of Tourism, a total of 128 438 tourists from France visited South Africa in 2015, making France one of the highest sources of inward tourism.
A South Africa-France Business Forum, to which South African business leaders have been invited, will take place concurrently with the State Visit on 11 July 2016. The Forum is expected to focus on the expansion of investment and trade in the sectors of agro-processing, financial services and defence industries, while also addressing the trade imbalance between the two countries.
The centenary commemoration of the Battle of Delville Wood on 12 July 2016 will be presided over by President Jacob Zuma, both in his capacity as President of the Republic of South Africa and the Commander in Chief of the South African National Defence Force.
The year 2016 marks the centenary of the Battle of Delville Wood, where thousands of soldiers died during World War I, especially those from the South African Infantry Brigade. Of particular importance is that, in preparation for the centenary celebrations, the Delville Wood memorial has been transformed in order to ensure that the historical role played by black South Africans in the First and Second World Wars is also accorded the necessary recognition as that given to white South Africans.
A crucial first phase of the transformation was the reinternment ceremony on 6 July 2014 of the first SANLC member to perish in France during WW I. The mortal remains of Private Beleza Myengwa were exhumed near le Havre and re-interred in the courtyard of the South African War Museum at Delville Wood.
The commemorations ceremony this year, will include inter-alia wreath laying ceremonies at Longueval and Delville Wood, as well as the unveiling of the new Wall of Remembrance to honour all South African soldiers, (members of both the South African Infantry Brigade and the South African Native Labour Corps (SANLC)) who perished during the Great War.
The last phase of the transformation process is the upgrading of the museum displays, artefacts and exhibitions related to the sinking of the SS Mendi. This Phase will be launched in February 2017 coinciding with the Centenary Commemoration of the sinking of the SS Mendi on 21 February 1917, which will be held in the United Kingdom.
AFRICAN UNION SUMMIT IN RWANDA
The African Union will convene its 27th Ordinary Session of its Assembly on 17 and 18 July 2016, in Kigali, Rwanda. The theme of 2016 is “2016: African Year of Human Rights with a particular focus on Women Rights”.
Among the major issues of focus, the Summit will look at the state of peace and security in Africa, election and appointment of the new African Union Commission, Financing of the Union, United Nations Reform, Integration of the Continent and the Continental Free Trade Area; the implementation of NEPAD projects, the African Peer Review Mechanism, and the following reports: Aids Watch Africa, African Trade and Implementation of the Kigali Water Action Plan.
On the issue of election and appointment of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, South Africa is bound by the decision of the countries of the South, which have endorsed the candidature of H.E. Dr Pelonomi Venson-Motoi, the Foreign Minister of Botswana to succeed Dr Dlamini Zuma.
In this regard, the region is campaigning for her and South Africa is fully behind our SADC candidate for the position of the Chairperson.
I would like to conclude by reminding you that South Africa’s two-year term of office as Member of the Peace and Security Council was extended for another two years until 31 March 2018, a decision which places our country at the centre of efforts to ensure that Africa is peaceful, secure and stable.
I thank you.
ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION
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