Pretoria – President Jacob Zuma says more emphasis has to be placed on innovation, fair trade and investment as the fundamentals of sustainable and inclusive growth.
“Our trade and investment policies should be designed to enable countries to improve competitiveness and gain access to markets to successfully participate in the global economy,” said President Zuma in a statement issued on Monday, at the conclusion of the Group of 20 (G20) Leaders’ Summit.
President Zuma called for the strengthening of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) as the principal body to negotiate trade related matters. This, he said, entails working towards the early conclusion of the Doha Development Agenda, in line with the development mandate and improving market access for exports of developing countries.
The G20 Leaders’ Summit, which was held in the Chinese city of Hangzhou, was held under the theme, ‘Towards an Innovative, Invigorated, Interconnected and Inclusive World Economy’. It focused on new strategies and innovations to boost the global economy.
Under this theme, the G20 leaders discussed specific priority areas such as carving a new path for growth, more effective and efficient global economic and financial governance, robust international trade and investment, inclusive and interconnected development, and other issues affecting the world such as anti-microbial resistance (AMR).
On the issue of inclusive and interconnected development, President Zuma said that industrialisation, infrastructure development, intra-Africa trade and curbing illicit financial flows are crucial goals for the development of the African continent, as stipulated in Agenda 2063.
South Africa’s proposal that illicit financial flows from trade mispricing must be studied by the World Trade Organisation was accepted.
This challenge, if addressed, has the potential to unlock millions of dollars that could be used by African governments to implement the Sustainable Development Goals and their development programmes.
President Zuma said for Africa not to be left behind in the 4th Industrial Revolution, world leaders must ensure the transfer of technology and investment in skills.
“In this regard, protection of intellectual property rights should not be used to exclude or create barriers to Africa’s industrialisation. We further recognise that without peace and security, there can be no sustainable development or meaningful economic growth,” the President said.
Risks of Anti-Microbial Resistance
The summit recognised Anti-Microbial Resistance (AMR) as a health, food security and economic threat of global magnitude.
AMR threatens the effective prevention and treatment of an ever-increasing range of infections caused by bacteria, parasites, viruses and fungi.
President Zuma said a multilateral solution is required as the lack of a global response could undermine the attainment of the health and other related SDGs.
“Importantly, in addressing this challenge, we need to uphold the principle of inclusivity. This requires that both developed and developing countries are included in research, development and production processes. We must ensure that all have access to these drugs,” said the President.
Prior to the G20 Summit, President Zuma interacted with representatives at the Business 20 summit.
The B20 Summit provides a platform for G20 leaders to engage with various leaders of the business community to address global challenges.
The President participated as a panelist in a B20 session on “Breaking a New Path for Growth.” The President said this session was particularly important for South Africa, given the emphasis on innovation, the digital economy and the new industrial revolution.
President Zuma also attended a trilateral meeting with counterparts from Chad and Senegal on the margins of the summit, where they coordinated and reinforced common messages from an African perspective during the Leaders’ Summit.
“As the only African member in the G20, South Africa seeks to advance the African Union’s priorities by coordinating closely with African observers in G20 meetings, such as the AU Chair and the NEPAD chair in an effort to strengthen the voice of Africa.
“South Africa further seeks to use its participation in the G20 to promote and strengthen the interests of the South on the understanding that if managed carefully, the G20 does present meaningful opportunities for advancing much-needed global governance reforms and orienting the international development agenda,” said President Zuma.
BRICS members meet
President Zuma also participated in the BRICS Leaders’ Informal Meeting, which meets annually on the margins of the summit.
The BRICS leaders discussed global political and security issues, and exchanged views on G20 matters related to global growth, the economy, trade, global governance, development and the SDGs.
Preparations for the upcoming 8th Goa BRICS Summit were also discussed.
President Zuma held bilateral meetings with President Xi Jingping of China, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of the Republic of Turkey where bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual concern were discussed.
Investing in Africa Forum
Following the conclusion of the G20 Summit, President Zuma will travel to Guangzhou in Guangdong Province, where he will attend the “2nd Investing in Africa Forum” on Wednesday.
The Investing in Africa Forum was initiated by the China Development Bank with the support of the Chinese Government in 2015 and has become an important platform that brings together leaders from business, government and international organisations to discuss and explore opportunities for investment in the African continent.
This year’s discussions at the forum will focus on investment opportunities in the African continent in areas such as agriculture and agribusiness, infrastructure development, manufacturing, trade, tourism and renewable energy.
Partnerships between China and South Africa in vocational training and skills development will also be discussed.
President Zuma will use his participation in the Investing in Africa Forum to promote South Africa as a stable democracy and an attractive investment destination.