One ong>ofong> the main objectives ong>ofong> South Africa’s foreign policy remain, as clearly enunciated by our former and first President ong>ofong> a democratic South Africa – Nelson Mandela, ong>toong> “strive ong>toong> strengthen our South-South ties ong>toong> help protect us against economic marginalization..”. We therefore remain firmly rooted in advancing the collective development interests ong>ofong> the global South, ong>toong> strengthening unity and solidarity, and ensuring better coherence and coordinationong>ofong> our positions within the global system ong>ofong> governance. We remain determined ong>toong> overcome all the obstacles confronting us, as we rally and unite ong>toong> pursue issues ong>ofong> fundamental interest ong>toong> our people. South Africa stand firm in its efforts ong>toong> fighting underdevelopment and dehumanizing poverty, economic and social inequality, and creating decent jobs and opportunities for our people. The National Development Plan ong>ofong> South Africa aims ong>toong> eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by 2030. We can only realize these goals by drawing on the energies ong>ofong> our people, growing an inclusive economy, building capabilities, enhancing the capacity ong>ofong> the state, and promoting leadership and partnerships throughout society. We have also realigned our national plan with the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC’s) Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan and that ong>ofong> the premier continental integration organization, the African Union. It is therefore in this context that we believe that South Africa’s objectives are inextricably linked and ong>toong>tally aligned with the stated strategic visionong>ofong> the African Union, as articulated in its Agenda 2063 – The Africa We Want -, and its first 10-Year Implementation Plan, that ong>ofong> “an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena”. Agenda 2063 represents a renewed transformative developmental agenda for the continent, emphasizing rekindling the ideal ong>ofong> Pan-Africanism, sense ong>ofong> unity, self-reliance, integration and solidarity. Agenda 2063 therefore is our lodestar as we implement our development strategies and as we develop strategic partnerships with the rest ong>ofong> the world. It is thus on this basis that South Africa will continue ong>toong> participate and promote the shared and common interests ong>ofong> the ACP Group ong>ofong> States aimed at creating a better world for all ong>ofong> us.
Madam Chairperson South Africa joined the ACP nearly 20 years ago as a manifestationong>ofong> its commitment ong>toong> south-south solidarity and cooperation. Through our membership, we have participated in every activity ong>ofong> the Group, struggled and marched in step and side by side with all its members in promoting the interests ong>ofong> the member states ong>ofong> the Group. This commitment still stands, as repeatedly stated by our political leadership on numerous occasions. However, we are also mindful ong>ofong> the fact that the world has changed significantly since the establishment ong>ofong> our Group 41 years ago – and so have the multiple challenges facing us in our efforts ong>toong> ensure the ACP’s relevance in a global arena within a more diverse and challenging environment. We share in the view that the expiry ong>ofong> the Coong>toong>nou Partnership Agreement, ong>ofong>fers an opportunity for the ACP earnestly ong>toong> deliberate about its future. I am encouraged that this group, the Committee ong>ofong> ong>Ambassadorong>s is capable ong>ofong> addressing the multitude ong>ofong> tasks lying ahead - be it the future perspectives, the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs), climate change or the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Equally important is a focus on increased intra-ACP cooperationong>toong> advance the individual & collective interests ong>ofong> Member States. I dare say that for the ACP ong>toong> regain its relevance as an effective global player, it is paramount that it should continue its process ong>ofong> renewal and work ong>toong>wards a new partnership with the EU that is markedly different from the existing framework. This renewal should give rise ong>toong> a crisp clarity ong>ofong> purpose for its existence, its raison d’etre, and on the back ong>ofong> which ong>toong> redefine its relationship with the EU based on interdependence (strategic partnership) rather than dependence and patronage. This will enhance the ACP’s value as a partner not only for the EU but also for other groupings in its quest ong>toong> diversify its partnerships.