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Broad horizons, shared prosperity

Jacob Zuma, president, South Africa

Infrastructure development in Africa, the importance of reaching agreement on climate change, and equitable international trade were just some of the issues highlighted by South African president Jacob Zuma in a recent address

From "The G20 Cannes Summit 2011: A New Way Forward," edited by John Kirton and Madeline Koch,
published by Newsdesk Media Group and the G20 Research Group, 2011
To download a low-resolution pdf, click here.

It may be recalled that just two decades ago, South Africa was still in the throes of its liberation struggle. Brazil, the Russian Federation, India and China firmly supported our quest for freedom. Today we have met as one, we have met as partners. This bears testimony to the evolving world. We are now equal co-architects of a new equitable international system.

Such a new world order will be to the benefit of all humanity and aims at securing shared prosperity for all. What distinguishes each of the BRICS countries are the value and importance we attach to development. We share the commitment of ensuring that our people benefit at the broadest level from global growth and that the benefits of economic expansion are shared equitably.

Over the next ten years, Africa will need $480 billion for infrastructure development. Already, Africa is projected as the third-fastest growing economy in the world, while the BRICS countries now constitute the largest trading partners of Africa and the largest new investors.

This economic relationship will be further strengthened as Africa forges ahead towards regional economic integration. This move will open up opportunities for more foreign direct investment and expanding trade relations with BRICS countries.

With regards to South Africa specifically, we expect to benefit economically and politically from this important alliance. Our primary goal is to improve the lives of South Africans through the growth and development of the economy, which will in turn result in job creation, our primary focus area, especially this year.

South Africa stands to benefit from the concrete projects of BRICS. These are in areas such as agriculture, science, statistics, development finance institutions, security and justice. As this is a dynamic relationship, more areas of cooperation will no doubt be added as we interact.

We must emphasise that the relationship with our BRICS partners does not mean that relations with countries such as the United States and the broader north have become less important. The European Union and Europe also remain South Africa’s most important economic trading partners, accounting for approximately 40 per cent of its exports, as well as 70 per cent of foreign direct investment.

We value these relationships with the developed north too. We recognise the developed north’s continued dominance, but it is important to also acknowledge the rising importance of the giants of the south and the value, thereof, for a developing economy like ours.

At the end of this year, South Africa will host the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. We are working towards the implementation of the COP 16 decisions in Durban, and are aiming for a realistic outcome in the short time available, while not raising any unrealistic expectations.

Although the parties have different positions on the elements on which agreement might be possible in Durban, any outcome must remain true to these principles. These include the principles of multilateralism, environmental integrity, common but differentiated responsibility and respective capabilities, equity, and honouring of all international commitments and undertakings made in the climate-change process.

I also have the honour to co-chair, with Her Excellency Tarja Halonen, the President of Finland, the UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Global Sustainability. We have no choice as nations of the world. We must confront the climate change challenge head on for the sake of sustainable development and future generations.

With regards to equitable international trade, we join the call for the conclusion of the Doha Development Round, and will continue engaging for a developmental round. We are optimistic about progress in many areas of cooperation, because we in the BRICS share a common view on the need to work together to change the world for the better.

There is unity of purpose in our diversity and this is what renders this mechanism unique and increasingly influential. Naturally each country is responsible to its own citizenry, but we further share a collective accountability now to the global community and notably the emerging-market and developing economies component thereof.

Based on an address by President Jacob Zuma to the plenary session of the third BRICS leaders’ meeting in Sanya, Hainan Island, People’s Republic of China, on 14 April 2011

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