Remarks With South Africa Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane Before their Meeting
Secretary of State
FOREIGN MINISTER NKOANA-MASHABANE: Welcome to our distinguished guests from the United States, Secretary Honorable Hillary Clinton, your delegation from USAID, colleagues, senior officials from (inaudible) and government (inaudible). Welcome to South Africa. The microphone dropped out of (inaudible) South Africa. (Laughter.) But because you are here, we had small (inaudible). (Laughter.) But welcome to our Tambo Building, the headquarters of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation.
This is your second visit to our country since you are Secretary of State, and we are meeting here today for our second strategic dialogue just two days before women in this country commemorate the 56th anniversary of their historic 9th August march in 1956 against the system of apartheid. South Africa regards the U.S.A. as an important player in the context of north-south relations, and I believe that as partners on the continent, we can do more to bring about stability in the way we (inaudible) in security and economic growth and development. South Africa continues to make its contribution on the continent to strengthen our democratic institutions through, among others, our membership of the African Review Mechanism and fulfilling our obligations under the African Charter on Democracy, Elections, and Governance. I think this resonates well with your new strategy for your foreign policy for the sub-Saharan Africa.
We believe that the development of economic growth, trade, and investment in Africa must be accompanied by a sustained program of extension of our infrastructure. It is for this reason that the African Union established (inaudible) infrastructure initiative that is championed by heads of state and government and coordinated by President Jacob Zuma. The President was unanimously appointed by all heads of state to lead this championship of infrastructure built on our continent.
We continue to encourage our partners to work with us in achieving the objectives of this initiative. Peace and security are paramount to the renewal of our continent, and when we continue to seek African solutions to African problems, our partners are going to benefit from a peaceful and prosperous Africa. It is in this context that the African countries are ready to work with our very new (inaudible) Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the new chair of the African Union Commission and also a daughter of Africa, a daughter of South Africa, the first woman to be elected to this position after 49 years, since the inception of this very premier institution of Africa since the OAU and now AU. The African Union is central to our collective endeavor in all these areas from development to peace and security. We should spare no effort in doing our best individually and politically to support and strengthen the African Union Commission.
Secretary Clinton and dear friend, I would like to use this opportunity to thank the U.S. Government for its continued support through PEPFAR, the PEPFAR program in our struggle against HIV and AIDS pandemic in South Africa. We remain a strong supporter of continued partnership with USAID on HIV and AIDS.
Furthermore we congratulate you and America for this historic landing of its rover, Curiosity, on planet Mars. From our perspective, the success is an opportunity for our two countries to partner on our new status of winning 80 percent of the Square Kilometre Array, the mega-telescope project – 80 percent to Africa, 20 to Australia. We need to start on thinking how we work together on the 80 percent that we put on the African side led by South Africa inviting your experts to work with us on this.
And therefore (inaudible) illustrates our bilateral relationship grew and developed within the strategic dialogue enhancing the strength of our relationship. Our meeting will be an opportunity not only to take stock of our achievements over the past year, but also to find the best possible way forward in our relationship. Within the ambit of the annual bilateral forum, we have established a number of successful working groups in the areas of agriculture, education, health, defense, trade, and investment. And drawing on the success achieved since the signing of the memorandum of understanding, a number of working groups such as the cyberspace working group are also considered to solidify our relations.
The U.S. is South Africa’s third largest trading partner, and 98 percent of South Africa’s exports enter the U.S. market duty-free and quota-free and the recurrent dispensation of the U.S. Growth and Opportunities Act. Africa’s wish is for the extension of AGOA beyond 2015. (Inaudible) our discussions today will be another step toward this objective. We see the recently announced U.S. strategy towards Africa as a framework within which we can work together in the strengthening of democratic institutions promoting economic growth and trade and investment, advancing the peace and security, and promoting opportunity and development. Dear friend and Secretary Clinton, welcome once again to South Africa.
And as I said when we were talking during our tete-a-tete, being a strategic leader, you are (inaudible) South Africa (inaudible) women would be celebrating (inaudible). (Laughter.) You’re here to join us, celebrate the 56th year of the (inaudible) historic 1956 march. Women know how to work hard and play hard. (Laughter.) So welcome once again to South Africa. I’m also very happy that you got an opportunity to spend some time with the father of our nation, my father, too, in Qunu, and I can see that you found him in good spirits as we did. We visited him just a few days before your arrival, and he was looking forward to receiving you. Once again, thank you ever so much for your customary commitment to elevating our bilateral relations – your commitment, your passion, your willingness to go an extra mile to elevate this relationship to a higher height. I look forward to fruitful discussions in pursuit of our common objectives. Welcome once again. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you so much. Well, I think I can speak for all of us in thanking you for not only those warm words, but the preparation for this important meeting, and you are absolutely right. It is not a coincidence that it takes place once again in early August. The work that you have done and that so many in South Africa, now with the first woman chair of the AU, to demonstrate unequivocally that women are full partners in the future of this great country and continent is among the many things that I highly admire. So I thank you, and I thank the government for hosting us, for this meeting of the U.S.-South Africa Strategic Dialogue. We’ll have an opportunity to review the progress we have made since our meeting in Washington in December 2010.
There are so many issues to discuss, and thank you for the congratulations on the Mars Rover Curiosity, which comes shortly after the very first space security dialogue between our two countries. Again, I don’t think that’s a coincidence, because with the telescope and our dialogue, we see this as an effort for all of humanity to be part of, and particularly for Africa from which humanity began to join in exploring what might be happening elsewhere in our universe.
There are three issues in particular that I want to emphasize, that I think are central to our shared goals and to the long-term value of our partnership. The first is what we are doing together in the region and in the world. South Africa plays a major role in the Security Council, to the G-20, of course to the AU, and much else. But we see our relationship as one that ultimately will be judged on what results we deliver for our respective people and nations. And because the work we do together has a growing impact beyond our borders, we are looking for ways to enhance and deepen our partnership.
South Africa has so much to offer to the rest of the world and so many global responsibilities that come with the leadership positions that South Africa has assumed. I’ll be speaking to that tomorrow in Cape Town. But here today, we have a chance to reflect on our shared vision of an Africa and a world that is democratic, prosperous, and free of conflict. The nations of Africa are playing an increasing role in resolving conflicts here and particularly bringing the AU into its full abilities through the Peace and Security Council. We support both development and increased foreign investment, stronger regional institutions, a peaceful resolution to disputes, free election, and accountable governance, and we know that we have a great partner in working on these issues with South Africa.
As crises and opportunities arise, there are tough issues that we have to tackle together from nuclear nonproliferation to climate change to security crises like the situations from Democratic Republic of Congo to Syria. We do not always see eye to eye on these issues. I don’t know two people who always do and certainly not two nations. And sometimes we will disagree as friends do. But what’s important is that this dialogue provides us a mechanism to keep working through all of the issues together; where we agree to have a plan of action, where we disagree to keep working to understand each other’s perspective, and make sure that we are operating on a basis of mutual respect.
That’s a key purpose of this strategic dialogue, and we will form a working group on global and African affairs to bring our senior government officials together on a regular basis. Because as I work across my government and I look at the delegation we have brought here for business and investment, it’s not only State Department. There are many other parts of our government that play an important role, and we need to be constantly getting the best expertise we can.
The second issue is our economic relationship, and last year our two-way trade came to nearly $22 billion. And we are, as you said, South Africa’s third largest source of foreign direct investment. We may have moved up to become you second largest trading partner. We have 600 American companies already operating here, but we think there is much more to be done, and we can explore that when we meet with our respective business representatives. We do think that we can remove remaining obstacles. I completely agree with the Minister that renewing the African Growth and Opportunities Act and being sure to include South Africa when that renewal occurs in a few years is an essential part of our overall economic strategy. I was pleased shortly before I left on this trip that we were able to extend the third country fabric provision, but now we’re going to be working on extending AGOA in general.
We also want to work with you on the infrastructure. As you rightly pointed out, President Zuma has taken on the responsibility of helping to work with all African leaders on planning the infrastructure. We’ve heard for many years about that highway from Cape Town to Cairo. But as the Minister told me in our tete-a-tete, we don’t even have highways between Kinshasa and (inaudible). So we need to be looking at how to have a network of roads, rail, ports, airports opening up African nations to one another as well as to the rest of the world. I’m pleased that the head of our Export-Import Bank, Fred Hochberg, and the South African Industrial Development Corporation are signing a $2 billion agreement to provide credit guarantees to stimulate the growth of South Africa’s renewable energy sector, something that is going to make a very big difference for this country as well as for our businesses and a new partnership between USAID and the South African-based firm Cadiz will make $150 million available to small- and medium-sized businesses in South Africa to help create about 20,000 more jobs. We often have our big companies go back and forth between our two countries, and that’s wonderful, but most jobs are created by small- and medium-sized enterprises in both of our nations, and they need more attention.
The third issue is our shared fight against HIV and AIDS. As you know, the United States has invested billions of dollars in the fight against this terrible disease here in South Africa, and together, I think it is fair to say we have saved hundreds of thousands of lives. There are mothers and fathers and children alive today because of our joint efforts. The U.S. initiative, PEPFAR, is a bipartisan one started by President Bush, fully embraced by President Obama. It represents the deepest values of the American people. Now, we are ready to employ all the treatment and care we offer through PEPFAR into South Africa’s primary health system. And South Africa is taking the lead, and I want publicly to commend your Minister of Health and his associates who are widely being given great admiration around the world for the success of their efforts. We will be increasing our support for what South Africa’s doing as South Africa increases its investment.
The United States will be working closely, and we’ll hear more from Dr. Goosby about how that will develop. But tomorrow in Cape Town, Dr. Goosby and your Minister will be signing a partnership framework implementation plan to guide the transition. Real progress has been made, but we fully respect South Africa’s desire to assume this responsibility, and we think it’s another example of South African leadership. I believe we can create an AIDS-free generation. I spoke to that at the AIDS conference in Washington last week where you were very well represented. So the United States will be spending up to $250 million a year here through 2017 to work with South Africa to ensure that what comes from this transition is to the benefit of the people of South Africa.
Our discussions today will touch on many more issues, but I am just very grateful that we have this chance to take stock of how far we’ve come. All the working groups that you mentioned, Minister, have been hard at work, and we anticipate even more cooperation in this partnership in the years ahead, and thank you again for your warm welcome and for the opportunity to further deepen and strengthen our relationship. (Applause.)