In­ter­na­tional re­la­tions

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South Africa has vowed to build the SADC brand

Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma,who has taken over as chair­per­son of South­ern African Demo­cratic Com­mu­nity (SADC), in­tends to grow in­tra-re­gional trade, which re­mains un­der 20 per­cent, and build the re­gional brand to­wards di­ver­si­fy­ing and ex­pand­ing value chains.

South Africa took over the chair from Swazi­land dur­ing the re­cent 37th SADC Sum­mit in Tsh­wane and, over the next year, will be re­spon­si­ble for sev­eral pro­grammes of the re­gional body, which is cel­e­brat­ing 25 years of ex­is­tence.

The SADC chair­per­son­ship, on a one-year-term ba­sis, ro­tates among the bloc's mem­ber states.

Pres­i­dent Zuma said South Africa's theme for its chair ten­ure is ‘Part­ner­ing with the pri­vate sec­tor in de­vel­op­ing in­dus­try and re­gional value chains'.This theme seeks to build mo­men­tum and con­ti­nu­ity in the col­lec­tive as­pi­ra­tion to­wards re­gional sus­tain­able eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and in­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion.

“Our co­op­er­a­tion, as a re­gion, will al­low our economies to over­come the chal­lenge of small, frag­mented economies, and cre­ate a larger mar­ket that im­proves the re­gion's prospects of at­tract­ing in­vest­ment,” he noted.

Driv­ing in­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion

In his ac­cep­tance speech, the Pres­i­dent out­lined the coun­try's strat­egy and key projects for the term, which he said, will strate­gi­cally ad­vance and drive re­gional and con­ti­nen­tal in­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion and in­te­gra­tion.

“The key ac­tiv­i­ties dur­ing our chair­per­son­ship will be the de­vel­op­ment of a high-im­pact An­nual Op­er­a­tion Plan, with tar­geted in­ter­ven­tions and pub­lic pol­icy tools to foster the de­vel­op­ment of re­gional value chains in agro-pro­cess­ing, phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and min­eral ben­e­fi­ci­a­tion.”

South Africa will pro­mote a mem­ber state-driven process, through the In­dus­trial De­vel­op­ment Fo­rum, to iden­tify cross-bor­der projects that will strengthen re­gional value chains and con­trib­ute to the de­vel­op­ment of the re­gion.The achieve­ment of this will re­quire a func­tional re­gional mar­ket, which is key to stim­u­lat­ing in­vest­ment.

“We will need to en­sure that we find an ef­fec­tive way of pro­mot­ing a rules-based trade en­vi­ron­ment that pro­motes cer­tainty and sta­bil­ity.The im­ple­men­ta­tion of com­mit­ments un­der the Trade Pro­to­col have to be an in­te­gral part of this agenda, so as to cre­ate an in­te­grated mar­ket that is con­ducive to the de­vel­op­ment of re­gional value chains,” Pres­i­dent Zuma told the sum­mit.

Build­ing ca­pac­ity

As a con­tri­bu­tion to­wards ca­pac­ity build­ing, South Africa will in ad­di­tion to the ini­tia­tive started by Swazi­land on the es­tab­lish­ment of the Univer­sity of Trans­for­ma­tion

in­tro­duce a new pro­gramme to de­velop ca­pac­ity in in­dus­trial pol­icy mak­ing and im­ple­men­ta­tion for senior of­fi­cials in the SADC re­gion.

With re­gards to in­fra­struc­ture, which has been iden­ti­fied as a key driver of in­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion, South Africa has iden­ti­fied an im­por­tant gap cre­ated by the lack of fund­ing for bank­able projects from both the pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tors.

“We there­fore need to lever­age in­fra­struc­ture spend to fast track the process of struc­tural trans­for­ma­tion in our econ­omy,” said Pres­i­dent Zuma.

Cur­rently, the na­ture of fund­ing or loans from in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tive part­ners comes with re­stric­tive con­di­tions. Pres­i­dent Zuma said this needed to change so that the re­gion could take the lead in mo­bil­is­ing resources to fund its projects.

“This is a key el­e­ment to­wards the re­gion's am­bi­tions of hav­ing its own Re­gional De­vel­op­ment Fund,” he said.

The fund will serve as start-up cap­i­tal for re­gional pro­grammes and projects in the var­i­ous sec­tors.

South Africa is also propos­ing the es­tab­lish­ment of an In­ter-State Nat­u­ral Gas Com­mit­tee to share les­sons for re­gional gas de­vel­op­ment and to pre­pare for the de­vel­op­ment of the wider gas econ­omy.

In­dus­tri­al­ists have in­di­cated that south­ern Africa is most likely sit­ting on mas­sive nat­u­ral gas re­serves of more than 600 tril­lion cu­bic feet, which the re­gion must ex­ploit to re­duce a heavy re­liance on biomass en­ergy.

“The in­clu­sion and pro­mo­tion of gas into the re­gional en­ergy mix will fa­cil­i­tate an in­crease in uni­ver­sal ac­cess to en­ergy, as well as in­dus­trial de­vel­op­ment in SADC.”

This will at­tract pri­vate sec­tor in­vest­ment and help boost re­gion­wide en­ergy in­fra­struc­ture and main­te­nance projects.

Food se­cu­rity

Pres­i­dent Zuma said South Africa will work closely with the SADC com­mu­nity in de­vel­op­ing and rolling out a strat­egy to pre­vent, mon­i­tor and deal with de­struc­tive in­va­sive species. The Food and Agri­cul­tural Or­gan­i­sa­tion (FAO) and other re­lated or­gan­i­sa­tions in SADC will be part of this process.

The re­gion has re­cently ex­pe­ri­enced nat­u­ral dis­as­ters and felt the im­pact of trans-bound­ary pests such as the Fall Army Worm and Tuta Ab­so­luta.

South Africa has also com­mit­ted to lead the re­gion to­wards broad­en­ing in­te­gra­tion through the es­tab­lish­ment of the Tri­par­tite Free Trade Area and the Con­ti­nen­tal FTA.

South Africa re­cently ap­pended its sig­na­ture to the agree­ment es­tab­lish­ing the TFTA, thereby be­com­ing the 19th mem­ber state out of 26 na­tions to do so.

South Africa will also push for the con­clu­sion of the Trade in Ser­vices ne­go­ti­a­tions in SADC. Pri­ori­tised sec­tors in­clude con­struc­tion, com­mu­ni­ca­tion, trans­port, fi­nance, en­ergy and tourism.

The out­go­ing SADC chair, King Mswati III of Swazi­land, thanked mem­ber states for their sup­port dur­ing his coun­try's ten­ure, say­ing chair­ing the or­gan­i­sa­tion gave them “a sense of pride” as a na­tion.

The sum­mit also saw the ad­mis­sion of the Union of the Co­moros to the or­gan­i­sa­tion, bring­ing the to­tal mem­ber­ship of the SADC fam­ily to 16 mem­ber states.

For­mer SADC chair King Mswati III of Swazi­land, with the new chair Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma and In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions and Co­op­er­a­tion Min­is­ter Maite Nkoana-Masha­bane at the 37th SADC Sum­mit.

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