17 October 2007

South Africa: Second IBSA Summit Kicks Off in Country

Pretoria — History is in the making as President Thabo Mbeki hosts the leaders of India and Brazil in Pretoria, for the second IBSA Heads of State summit.

India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Brazil's President Lula da Silva are meeting President Mbeki in the second top-level tri-lateral forum of the development leaders of the political south.

This is the first time South Africa hosts the IBSA Summit since its inception. The first Heads of State Summit was held in Brasilia, Brazil last year, after several years of summits at ministerial and trade delegation level.

The Summit of Heads of State and Government will be preceded by an IBSA Ministerial Working Breakfast hosted by Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma with her counterparts from India and Brazil, Foreign Ministers Shri Pranab Mukherjee and Dr Celso Luiz Nunes Amorim at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

It is expected that a number of trilateral agreements will be signed following the meeting of Heads of State and Government focusing on shipping, ICT and energy India-Brazil-SA have very vibrant democracies, common views on major global issues and are substantial players in their respective sub-regional economies.

Collectively India, Brazil and South Africa have a population of over 1.3 billion people and a combined market of almost U.S.$2 trillion.

Accordingly, issues on the agenda of discussions between the Heads of State and Government and various working groups on Wednesday are expected to include, ways in which to increase trilateral economic, trade and investment.

This is with the aim of reflecting the strong and substantial political relations between the three countries with a view to pushing back the frontiers of poverty and underdevelopment and creating better lives for the peoples of all three continents in particular and the South in general.

Some of these discussions will also revolve around improving the air and sea connectivity between the three countries with a view to ensuring air and maritime connectivity between the three regions and their continents.

The three countries have already signed an agreement on aviation and maritime.

The three Heads of State and Government will also, during the Summit receive reports from representatives of the various IBSA working groups including business, academics, the parliamentary forum, the civil society forum and the women's forum.

On conclusion of the IBSA Summit President Mbeki is expected to hold bilateral discussions with the Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh and the President of Brazil Lula da Silva respectively.

Issues on the agenda of discussions are expected to include, among others:

  •  The status of bilateral political, economic and trade relations between the two countries;
  •  Developments with regard to the World Trade Organisation negotiations and the conclusion of the Doha Development Round;
  •  Progress towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals; and
  •  The comprehensive reform of the United Nations system.

Events leading up to the summit at the Presidential Guesthouse in Pretoria, Wednesday have provided a platform for the formation of trilateral business partnerships.

These are to enhance existing trade among the three member states and develop new partnerships.

Targets have been set to increase trade amongst the three nations to $10 billion by the end of 2007 at the second annual IBSA summit.

Increased trade perpetuates Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), infrastructure development and increased competition in the developing countries.

Recent analysis showed that developing countries accounted for about 30 percent of world trade and that about 40 percent of that trade was South-South orientated.

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