South Africa believes that agreements reached through multilateral fora must be implemented in good faith. We are therefore delighted that the US, under President Joe Biden, has taken steps to return to the multilateral fold by rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement and the World Health Organization and its leadership in negating vaccine nationalism.
The values that inspire and guide South Africa as a nation are deeply rooted in decades of liberation struggles. Having benefited from many selfless acts of solidarity in the past, South Africa firmly believes that what it wants for its people should be what it wants for the world’s citizens.
Our foreign policy is therefore based on the spirit of internationalism and is linked to our pursuit of a better Africa in a better world.
As we celebrate 27 years of freedom, we as a generation should always be aware that there is a dialectical relationship between our 27 years of freedom and the 27 years of imprisonment that sought to break the resilient spirit of Nelson Mandela.
As we celebrate the Silver Jubilee of the South African Constitution, we are aware of the constitutional values that are reflected in the Bill of Rights. Our foreign policy goals should not conflict with the realization of these rights.
The rights to self-determination, social justice and freedom are inalienable rights. Political freedom is at the forefront of our envisaged vision of a just and just world erring on the side of the weakest.
The goal of global solidarity and deepening South-South cooperation is an important feature of our foreign policy archive.
We take a break to celebrate 119 years of Cuba’s independence from the Spanish Empire and the end of the first US military occupation on May 20, 1902. Cuba remains a historical and strategic partner, and our relations continue to show a good model of South-South cooperation and human solidarity.
South Africa condemns the continuation of unilateral sanctions against Cuba and will continue to support the annual resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly on the “Need to End the Economic, Trade and Financial Blockade Against Cuba”.
On June 23, 2021, the United Nations General Assembly will re-examine the resolution to end the US blockade against Cuba, which includes the Helms-Burton Extra-Territorial Law Title III. This resolution is supported by South Africa. We trust President Biden’s leadership will be inspired by the US foreign policy initiative of 2015, when President Barack Obama approved a process of back-channel negotiations and normalization of diplomatic relations with Cuba.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, the Cuban people and the Henry Reeves International Medical Brigades were an inspiration to humanity as they pledged to support other countries in their fight against this deadly virus.
Even before the pandemic began, Cuban doctors and health professionals were providing medical support in 59 countries. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Cuba used 187 of its most skilled doctors to assist the South African people in our fight against Covid-19. treated 239,411 patients; and performed 40,391 nursing procedures and 1,215 surgical procedures. They saved the lives of 1,423 patients.
Cubans provide this solidarity and don’t ask for anything because they believe in global solidarity and have a real commitment to making our world a better place for everyone. They are instinctively multilateralist and progressive internationalists.
We must reaffirm our unwavering support for the people of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. We call on the United States of America to reconsider its position on Venezuela in the light of the report by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Sanctions and Human Rights, Alena Douhan. She published it first recommendations in February 2021 calling for the lifting of unilateral US coercive measures.
Within the Western Hemisphere, the Americas and the Caribbean span a vast geographic area that includes developed, developing, and least developed economies, as well as regional and global powers. There are strong contrasts between these countries, including in terms of territorial size, population, economy, technology, and military power. The diversity within this hemisphere requires a differentiated approach to foreign policy and offers a wide range of opportunities for engagement that span the full spectrum of South Africa’s foreign policy priorities.
The US is a strategic partner for South Africa and an important export market for value-added products as well as a major source of foreign direct investment, technology transfer, development aid and tourism. Bilateral relations continue to grow and we need to regain the momentum lost by the Covid-19 pandemic and political changes under the Trump administration.
South Africa believes that agreements reached through multilateral fora must be implemented in good faith. We are therefore pleased to note that the new administration in the US under President Biden has taken steps to return to the multilateral fold by rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement and the World Health Organization, as well as its leadership in negating the vaccine nationalism.
South Africa and the United States have extensive relationships that span a wide range of issues aligned with South Africa’s domestic political priorities, including areas such as health (Pepfar), education, science and technology, water and the environment. It should be noted that the Pepfar allocation for 2021-2024 has been cut by the US by 11%, but it still stands at $ 465.9 million. The Agoa Agreement continues to facilitate trade between South Africa and the US and amounts to R 173 billion.
Our citrus exports increased by 30% in 2020 due to the international need for vitamin C nutrients as a result of the pandemic. South Africa will take the opportunity to reset bilateral relations with the US in pursuit of our national interests. South Africa clearly believes that deepening multilateralism is of paramount importance to world peace.
In addition, contact with the African diaspora in the region would help improve relations with South Africa and the African continent, particularly with regard to the Caribbean countries. The African diaspora in America, especially in the Caribbean, is still important for South Africa, as it supports the liberation of Africa and pursues a shared vision of a just world.
Canada remains a key ally in implementing our national priorities, including supporting our efforts to build a capable state. South Africa and Canada work together to promote multilateralism, gender empowerment and building social cohesion. We continue to see strong investments by Canada in the mining sector and will continue to strengthen these collaborations in the areas of mineral processing, value creation and support for the next generation.
Similar to South Africa, the Covid-19 pandemic continues to have devastating effects on Latin America and the Caribbean. The severe regional economic decline has led to rising unemployment, poverty and inequality, and significant deaths.
South Africa will build on existing solid relationships with the region to establish mutually beneficial collaboration across a range of areas such as agribusiness, biotechnology, blue economy, education and skills, energy (particularly biofuels and renewables), mining, health, pharmaceuticals, and science Enabling science technology, water and waste management, human rights, South-South partnerships and multilateral cooperation to advance the South’s development agenda.
Western European countries are well positioned to support South Africa’s economic recovery after Covid-19. This applies both to our bilateral relations with these countries and to the strategic partnership between South Africa and the EU, which continues to serve as the main platform for engagement between South Africa and the EU and its Member States. This region includes some of our major trading partners, sources of foreign direct investment and tourism, and development aid providers.
In the coming year we will focus more on developing relationships in those areas that help us face our domestic political challenges. These include encouraging investment, developing skills, promoting exports, protecting our market share, and promoting our country as a preferred tourist destination.
We will work with the countries of Western Europe to support President Cyril Ramaphosa’s goal of attracting $ 100 billion in investment. Total investment from Europe is estimated at around R 1.4 trillion, which is about 77% of total FDI in the country. It has made a significant contribution to job creation and industrialization in South Africa.
The main event in relation to our relations with Western Europe will be the hosting of the eighth South Africa-EU Summit in South Africa, which will revitalize the strategic partnership between South Africa and the EU. The strength of this partnership rests on shared values and interests, including effective multilateralism, the promotion of peace and security, human rights, democracy, the rule of law, free and fair trade and sustainable development in both regions.
We trust that the EU’s development support for the national programs of South Africa will continue in the new multiannual indicative program SA-EU for the period 2021-2028, which will be implemented under the newly created EU Neighborhood Development and International Cooperation Instrument.
For us, the critical aspects that the EU and its Member States need to take into account with regard to development cooperation are the objectives set out in our National Development Plan and in our recently adopted Plan for Economic Reconstruction and Reconstruction.
South Africa’s trade relations with the UK will continue unchanged after the UK leaves the EU and the country will remain one of South Africa’s major trading partners. The strong and historic relationship we have with this region will be an important asset as we strive to rebuild our economy and pursue our national, regional and international priorities. DM
Alvin Botes is Deputy Minister for International Relations and Cooperation for the SA