South Africa’s Country Statement delivered by Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms Candith Mashego-Dlamini, on the occasion of the 22nd Meeting of the IORA Council of Ministers, Dhaka, Bangladesh, 24 November 2022

Honourable Chair, Dr Momen,

Honourable Ministers & Deputy Ministers,

Distinguished Guests,

Delegates,

On behalf of the Government and People of South Africa, I wish to express our deepest condolences to the Government and people of Indonesia, for the tragic loss of life caused by an earthquake that struck the West Java region this week.

I am very pleased to express our deep appreciation to you Hon Minister Momen, IORA Chair, for hosting the 22nd Council of Ministers Meeting in-person in the vibrant city of Dhaka.

Thank you very much for your kind and generous hospitality and the excellent arrangements made for my delegation and I since our arrival.

South Africa reaffirms our support and commitment in ensuring the success of your chairship which thus far has produced tangible outcomes under your able stewardship.

Your excellencies, we are meeting at a time when the world is experiencing several critical challenges that are impacting negatively on the lives of our people as well as our economic growth. The prolonged challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the impact of climate change and increasing global instability underlines the importance of us working in cooperation and collaboration with each other to collectively address these challenges.

The Indian Ocean provides an opportunity for us to harness the vast potential that the Indian Ocean portends for our collective growth and development.

Chairperson, this is an important year in IORA’s history as we observe the 25th Anniversary since the founding of the Association. I believe that through our collective efforts we have developed IORA as a strategic platform to engage with each other and the global community to advance the interests of our countries in creating a more inclusive and equitable global community.

We welcome the second IORA action plan 2022-2027 and must ensure its full implementation for the benefit of all of us. We must continue to sustain the momentum that we have generated in ensuring IORA is indeed the Apex body of the Indian Ocean. We are pleased to note that climate change which is one of the greatest challenges confronting humanity will be embedded as an integral aspect of IORA’s focus.

Excellencies, likewise, South Africa is pleased to note that negotiations to finalise the IORA Indo Pacific Outlook, which was introduced into the IORA agenda during South Africa’s Chairship, has been finally concluded. We would like to commend the work of our officials under India’s Chairship in bringing this process to a fruitful conclusion.

We must ensure that IORA’s outlook on the Indo Pacific must be a platform focused on cooperation and collaboration as well as addressing the development challenges of member states as one of its key focus areas.

I’m also pleased to note the initiative by our senior officials to host a Strategic Review Workshop of IORA focusing on the journey we have traversed this past 25 years as well as charting the way forward.

Excellencies, as you are aware, in 2021 we launched the Africa Continental Free Trade Area, the world’s largest free trade area that seeks to transform the continent through accelerated economic growth and integration. We would like to see IORA engaging with AfCTA, finding synergies and complementarities for our mutual benefit.

Chair, I wish to thank the Secretary-General Ambassador Salman Al Farisi and the secretariat for their sterling work and reassure him of South Africa’s support in advancing the work of IORA.

In conclusion Excellencies and Colleagues, the vision of President Mandela more than two decades ago pertaining to the Indian Ocean Region remains relevant to this day, as it continues to bind us all in ensuring that the Indian Ocean Rim remains an important region that promotes peace, security, socio-economic development, and mutual prosperity for all.

I thank you

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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