Speech delivered by the Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms Candith Mashego-Dlamini, IORA Business Forum Closing Session, 21 November 2022, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Esteemed guests,
Honourable fellow members of panel,
Chairperson of the IORA Business Forum, Sheikh Fazle Fahim,
Secretary General of IORA, Ambassador Al Farisi,

It is my great privilege to be in your beautiful country and thank you for inviting me to be part of your business forum. IORA has a special significance for South Africa given that it was President Mandela’s vision that brought us together as the IORA family. The business sector is an important pillar of IORA cooperation, and the Business Forum plays a vital role in bringing our business communities together in ensuring that we reap the full benefits of this vibrant region that we are part of.

The world economy is undergoing severe pressure brought about by several challenges including the prolonged impact of the COVID Pandemic, Climate Change and the Russia-Ukraine conflict. We have witnessed the severe repercussions that these have on our people and economies. Global inflation is at its highest that we have experienced in several decades. The World Bank has warned that the world may be edging towards a global recession in 2023. Predictions of global growth in 2023 is expected to be in the region of 2.7% while many countries are predicted to enter into a recession.

These trends will have devastating consequences for our people. The World Bank group President David Malpass notes that to achieve low inflation rates, currency stability and faster growth, policy makers must shift their focus from reducing consumption to boosting production. Policies should seek to generate additional investment and improved productivity and capital allocation which are critical for growth and poverty reduction.

We have seen the impact of global supply chain disruptions due to COVID and the conflict causing worldwide food and energy shortages and affecting consumer patterns. In our own Indian Ocean region, we saw the chaos caused as a result of the containership Evergiven being stuck in the Suez Canal in March 2021.

The major global choke points within the Indian Ocean are vital to our trade and economic wellbeing. The lessons learned from the experience of supply and value chain disruptions is the need for us to develop domestic and regional supply chains. This is an area that the business forum should explore in terms of opportunities for us to collaborate in developing integrated and diversified value chains within the Indian Ocean Region.

The Russia-Ukraine conflict has immediate and far-reaching consequences on food and energy security that has impacted in exorbitant food prices, access to fertilisers and uncertainty regarding future harvests. As countries of the region, we must now invest in building resilient societies and economies to meet these challenges, mitigating the most immediate harms to our people must be a top priority for our countries. High prices for energy and food pose immediate threats to human security particularly among low income and vulnerable populations. As Governments we must now invest in building the long-term resilience of societies and economies against global shocks such as recently witnessed.

The IORA business forum must grapple with these challenges while at the same time harnessing the vast opportunities that the region provides for mutual benefit. As Governments and the business communities we need to deepen cooperation and collaboration especially to ensure that we fully harness the trade, investment and economic opportunities given that the most vibrant emerging market and developing economies are to be found in the Indian Ocean Region.

The Business Forum must continue to ensure that this cooperation and collaboration becomes one of the key priorities of its ongoing activities. As South Africa we fully support the business forum and will continue to work with you to ensure that this forum becomes the apex platform for doing business in the IORA region.

I thank you for giving me this opportunity to address you.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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