Intervention by His Excellency, President Jacob Zuma, at BRICS and BIMSTEC Leaders Outreach Summit, 8th BRICS Summit, Goa, India
Your Excellencies, leaders of the member states of BRICS,
Your Excellencies, leaders of the member states of BIMSTEC,
Honourable Ministers and distinguished delegates,
I wish to convey our sincere appreciation to Prime Minister Modi, for enabling us to engage with the honourable BIMSTEC Leaders.
BIMSTEC members are all friends of South Africa and we enjoy strong and cordial relations.
I appreciate the continuation of our established tradition to engage like-minded countries such as BRICS and share views with partners facing similar developmental needs.
The theme of this meeting demonstrates that we have various opportunities to reinforce our collaboration commencing with stronger coordination in appropriate global fora.
The traditional ties of solidarity that many of our countries forged at the Bandung Conference in 1955, underpins our shared history of solidarity with BIMSTEC members.
We share the many of the objectives of the BIMSTEC Group.
These include creating an enabling environment for rapid economic development, accelerating economic growth and social progress and in supporting one another in the form of training and research facilities.
In the regional context, Africa considers its Regional Economic Communities as its building blocks to also fast-track the Africa Union’s economic integration agenda.
We live in a world of remarkable technological progress. However, we experience growth which is not necessarily inclusive and does not adequately address and reduce inequalities.
Against this background it is vital that countries and regional organisations cooperate to find solutions and innovative ways to address objectives which BIMSTEC has also identified as being core priorities.
In the bilateral context, growing trade and investment between the nations of BRICS and BIMSTEC will provide us with the means of creating further employment opportunities.
In this regard, we need to identify what barriers to trade currently exist between us as well as considering a reduction in tariffs and the expansion of infrastructure links.
Without the necessary road, rail, air and shipping links, enabling our connectivity, any opportunities to growing our trade figures cannot be exploited to its full potential.
As an African Union champion for infrastructure development, I can inform you that much progress has been made in improving transport links across the Continent and that this has had a positive impact on intra-Africa trade.
In this regard, South Africa provides an excellent link to the region which the member states of BRICS and BIMSTEC can utilise.
The expansion of sea links and the development of the Blue Economy in particular, also provide opportunities to consolidate commercial relations between the BRICS and BIMSTEC countries.
South Africa has a programme we have termed Operation Phakisa, which is aimed at fast tracking development in the oceans economy including areas such as ship building, aqua-culture and fisheries.
In this regard we would welcome the sharing of information, experience and programmes related to the oceans economy.
Another important area which links BRICS and the BIMSTEC countries relates to the environment and climate change challenges in particular.
All our member states presently face the threat of either rising sea levels or of extreme climatic conditions such as floods and droughts and other natural disasters.
Here we have the opportunity of pooling together our respective best practices in order to address the challenges we face.
With regard to climate change, I would like to use this opportunity to congratulate all countries that have successfully ratified the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, as well as those who have indicated their intention to do so.
I urge those countries which have not yet made this pledge to accede to this important milestone. Our internal processes are far advanced and we should ratify soon.
The BRICS-BIMSTEC partnership can thrive also through strengthening cooperation in the areas of training, scholarships and research facilities, specifically in the educational, professional and scientific fields.
Each of our countries has niche areas of expertise and enjoy comparative advantages within specific fields.
Cross fertilisation, the exchange of ideas, joint projects and skills training can go far in promoting economic development and social progress in the BRICS and BIMSTEC countries.
Lastly, I would welcome cooperation between BRICS and BIMSTEC in endeavours to reform the existing global order and the global system of governance.
For far too long the established world paradigm has favoured and been biased towards selected members of the international community.
This paradigm is outdated, undemocratic and unfair when seen against the background of contemporary realities.
Together we can cooperate and enhance work towards the reform of the United Nations organisation and the Bretton Woods Institutions.
I sincerely thank you for bringing the Leaders of the BRICS and BIMSTEC together.
Source: South African Government.