Notes Following Media Briefing by Deputy Director-General Jerry Matjila, Media Centre, Amphitheatre, Union Buildings, Tuesday 2 October 2007
INDIA – BRAZIL – SOUTH AFRICA SUMMIT (IBSA)
I would like to give you an overview of the India – Brazil – South Africa (IBSA) Initiative.
As most of you would be aware, it was launched in 2003 when the Foreign Ministers of India, Brazil and South Africa met on the margins of the G-8 Evian Summit.
Prior to this, President Mbeki had written to the Heads of States of India and Brazil inviting them to participate in this initiative.
At the meeting of the Foreign Ministers it was then agreed to have a meeting in New Delhi in 2004 and Cape Town in 2005. These were very important meetings to prepare for this initiative. The first IBSA Summit was held in Brasilia on 13 September 2006.
The three Heads of State and Government: Presidents Mbeki and Lula and Prime Minister Singh meet regularly – at least every 6 margins – on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly and the G-8 Summit. The three Heads of State and Government have also agreed to have an annual IBSA Summit. This will be the second hosted by South Africa. India will host the third Summit in 2008.
Mechanisms have been put into place to ensure that IBSA addresses the concerns of all IBSA member states. We have agreed that various Ministers of Trade, Agriculture, and various others will also meet their counterparts.
This has resulted in 14 working groups from various government departments – this illustrates that the Ministries of India, Brazil and South Africa are talking to each other. These programmes give substance to the IBSA initiative or IBSA Forum as we refer to it.
So far, the Heads of State have agreed that there will be a focal point in each IBSA country. These focal points have had 10 meetings to ensure that the programmes to which have been agreed are implemented.
By and large, IBSA aims to promote South-South co-operation and dialogue. It was a response to the formation of the G-7 and G-8 and the realisation that the G-8 meets and imposes its policies on the rest of the world, especially fiscal policies and monetary policies which becomes the global standard.
Part of the objective of the formation of IBSA was to increase trade relations and global debates – climate change, nuclear issues, WTO processes and the three heads of state believed that they needed to come together to create a critical mass through which to articulate the agenda of the South.
This was part of the objective and the three Heads of State believed that their collective strength could give them weight to interact and dialogue with the North.
Also, they realised that these three countries have very dynamic economies and in their own sub-continents have a particular impact.
They also realised that there is not much trade between themselves so it was suggested that systems, regulations and frameworks be put in place to facilitate trade amongst the three countries. We also agreed to co-ordinate the skills bases in each of the three countries in order to develop our own economies.
South Africa two weeks ago hosted the 10 th IBSA Focal points meeting to finalise the programme of the next meeting. The Summit will be held at the Presidential Guesthouse on the 17 th October 2007 where President Mbeki will host President Lula and Prime Minister Singh.
A series of activities will be held prior to this:
- Business Forum in Sandton where we expect at least 100 business people from India and 60 from Brazil to join 100 or more of their South African counterparts.
Part of that business meeting will be to translate agreements into tangible business programmes.
There is a discussion to try to setup trilateral companies or joint ventures viz. martime/shipping initiatives, airlines working together or new co-operation in aviation.
We begin to therefore see the formation of new entities – South Africa – India or India – Brazil – in the fifth year of IBSA we will begin to see real and concrete programmes begin to emerge.
- Seminar on dealing with technologies – gas-to-fuel and coal-to-fuel technologies.
- Parliamentary Forum – the parliamentarians of India and Brazil felt that it would be useful to meet while the Executive was meeting.
- Academics Forum
- Woman’s Forum – this is the latest addition to the IBSA programme and will look at especially gender issues and inclusivity of women in economic issues.
These meetings will be held between the 15-16 October 2007 in Sandton.
On the 17 th October 2007 we will move into the Summit where President Mbeki will invite the chairpersons of these groups to report to the Heads of State and Government at the Presidential Guesthouse in Pretoria.
On the afternoon of 17 th October 2007 the Heads of State and Government will have a dialogue with the business people. IBSA is about business – about unlocking the potential of the South, about creating jobs.
The Brazilian businesspeople have flagged the issue of connectivity – ie. how do you fly from India to Brazil without flying through Europe?
The matter of maritime connectivity has also been raised – how do you transport goods from India (South Asia) to Latin America. Can this not be made easier?
These are the sorts of discussions the Heads of State and Government will have – the business people will appeal to the Heads of State and Government to fastrack these issues.
The Heads of State and Government will also deal with some other very important issues:
- The reform of the United Nations which is a very important matter to all of the three Heads of State and Government viz. a fair global system of governance. Each of the three Heads of State and Government are very active players in the United Nations.
- The stalled Doha Round of the World Trade Organisation Talks because if we do not conclude the Doha Round we in the South will lose. As you know, the three Heads of State and Government are very active in the Doha Round of negotiations.
- Poverty and underdevelopment – the three countries had agreed to form an IBSA Fund into which they would contribute US$1 million annually. This fund was established to help assist the most disadvantaged amongst the developing countries to assist them to realise some of the programmes that would otherwise take a long time to realise if funded by other donor agencies. This is a very rapid response fund. We currently have two programmes funded through this initiative – one in Guinea Bissau.
- Disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation issues.
We have this basket of global issues we are dealing with.
As I said earlier, we have 14 working groups with which we are working:
- Trade and industry
- Information society
- Transport which is one of the key areas we are dealing with, viz. to ensure connectivity between the three countries and also maritime transport
- Energy – we are increasingly dealing with non-renewable or alternative forms of energy – biofuels, biotechnology
- Health and medicine
- Cultural co-operation – we will on the evening of 16 October 2007 view a cultural display of Brazilian, South African and Indian artists together.
- Defence co-operation – these three countries are major consumers of defence and related equipment. In May 2008 we will have naval exercises between the India and Brazilian navies on our coasts to facilitate this co-operation
- Revenue co-operation with is very important because we want to facilitate business exchanges between our three countries.
We have in the course of the last two years discussed new working groups on climate change and human settlement. We thought this was necessary to investigate how Brazil deals with the issue of low-cost houses and settlements in their mega-cities because we believe that we in South Africa are moving in this direction of mega-cities.
We usually, in these types of meetings also sign agreements. We signed five agreements in Brasilia last year. These were targeted agreements with the possibility to open up new vistas of co-operation between the three countries.
We will sign about four agreements at the end of this Summit – these are almost finalised and are with our legal services.
We hope that these agreements will be accompanied by a programme of action – we have move from a situation of a lot of text in the agreement to one where we deal with action. In Brazil we signed the agreement on aviation and maritime co-operation. We thought this was where we could have what we refer to as “early harvest.” Once we have this, we have an opportunity, because of our geo-strategic location between India and Brazil, to create opportunities around our harbours. India and Brazil are beginning to support this. At the business forum in Sandton companies will begin to discuss how to translate this maritime co-operation into activities.
South Africa is increasing aviation capacity with Latin America. We will soon be flying to Argentina to increase capacity. We hear that one of the Indian airlines will be flying from India into South Africa very soon. There is a need to create such a capacity.
We also signed an agreement on biofuels. This is a very important agreement is you consider the current oil prices which currently range between US$ 78-80 a barrel. We are therefore looking into this matter of biofuels. In Brazil 40-50% of their fuel needs come from biofuels and we are learning from them in this regard. We may have to expand the programmes in maize and sugar plantations or indeed, any other sources, that will allow us to achieve this.
We signed an agreement on co-operation in the field of agriculture and ICT.
We will issue a declaration on conclusion of the Summit. This Declaration, without going into much detail will focus on the Millennium Development Goals. These three countries are the great movers in the United Nations to assist the developing countries to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
We will talk about climate change which was a big issue at the 62 nd session of the UNGA.
We will talk about human rights and international co-operation between Africa, Asia and South America.
We will talk about India and Brazil supporting the recently launched Pan-Africa Infrastructure Development Fund at the AU Summit in Ghana.
We will look increasingly at the programmes of these working groups and will conclude 5 agreements.
We will evaluate the IBSA Fund – we noted from the South African side that we should have people from Timor L’Este who have just held elections. There is no public service in Timor L’este and we thought that South Africa could assist them in this regard. There are also programmes in Burundi in HIV and Aids assistance.
We expect quite a number of people from India and Brazil and visit us.
We will host media delegations from India and Brazil prior to the Summit. There is also a discussion to host an editors forum – there was an editors meeting a month ago. We believe it is very important that editors from India and Brazil should meet their counterparts from South Africa to regularly discuss how this matter is being covered and the challenges faced by media in this regard.
This Summit will be about looking at tangibles. Brazil was about launching IBSA, this one will look at the tangibles of the IBSA – are we impacting on the lives of the people we represent – is there something we are doing that benefits our respective peoples?
Questions and answers
Question: Ambassador, can you reiterate the agreements that will be signed?
Answer: There are about 6 agreements at which we are looking – public administration, higher education, health and medicines, social development, cultural co-operation, wind energy and mutual assistance agreement on customs matters.
Question: Ambassador, you mentioned two possible new air routes – could you clarify?
Answer: We may see one of the Indian private airlines – Jet Airways – flying to South Africa because of the increasing volume. We are still awaiting information from Brazil in this regard. In the meantime, there is all this possibility in South Africa to create this connectivity and have therefore increased capacity to Latin America.
We do hope that the private sector in South Africa will also move into this space. There is a lot of possibility and potential.
Question: Ambassador you said that one of the objectives was to increase trade between the countries … (inaudible)
Answer: It has increased. Trade now stands at approximately US$ 6-7 billion. There is a target to increase this to US$ 10 billion in the next two years. This is based on realities that are achievable. Once we have created a common framework we can move towards higher figures.
Part of the meeting will also discuss a trilateral Free Trade Agreement between SACU, Mercosaur and India. There are discussions that are underway. If we can achieve this, we can increase the trade figures to an excess of US$ 10 billion.
Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
2 October 2007