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Strenghtening Maritime Cooperation for a Peaceful, Stable and Prosperous Indian Ocean

9 March 2017

President Jacob Zuma has returned to Pretoria after a successful State Visit to Indonesia, which was preceded by his participation in the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Leaders' Summit in Jakarta, on 6-7 March 2017, at the invitation of His Excellency President Joko Widodo of the Republic of Indonesia.

The first ever IORA Leaders' Summit, convened under the theme: "Strenghtening Maritime Cooperation for a Peaceful, Stable and Prosperous Indian Ocean," was an historic occasion where IORA Leaders gathered in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the establishment of IORA.

"The occasion has a special significance for South Africa because President Nelson Mandela was one of the pioneers of the Indian Ocean Rim Association. He saw value in bringing us together for the socio-economic development of the people of our region," said President Zuma.

South Africa is one of the founding members of the Association and will also assume the Chair of IORA from October/November 2017 until 2019 when South Africa hosts the IORA Council of Ministers Meeting in Durban later this year.

"A major priority for South Africa’s tenure as Chair will be to focus on the Ocean (Blue) Economy, to implement the outcomes of the Summit, and to build on the successive leadership of the Association under previous Chairs such as India, Australia and Indonesia," said the President.

President Zuma emphasised that the Association, comprising 21 member countries bordering the Indian Ocean and supported by its seven Dialogue Partners, remains significant because it is the foremost entity that brings together Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Australasia, through the Indian Ocean.

"The Indian Ocean is strategically significant as its vast coastline holds two thirds of the world’s oil reserves, carries half of the world’s container ships and one third of the bulk cargo traffic. The Indian Ocean is a valuable resource and a main driver for the Indian Ocean Rim economies and holds great potential for innovation, job creation and sustainable socio-economic  development," said the President.

The IORA Leaders' Summit commenced  with the First IORA Business Summit themed: "IORA: Building Partnership for Sustainable and Equitable Economic Growth," aimed at further promoting greater economic cooperation.

President Zuma was invited to address the gathering of business leaders and chambers of commerce and industry where he stressed that the leaders of the Indian Ocean Rim Association have adopted the Blue or Ocean Economy as a top priority for generating employment and ensuring sustainability in business and economic models. In 2014, South Africa launched a programme called Operation Phakisa to further develop and expand the country’s ocean economy.

The IORA Leaders adopted the Jakarta Concord as an outcome of the Summit, which is a  strategic and visionary document that will further enhance cooperation for IORA, as well as strengthen the Association. The six priority areas of the Concord are: maritime safety and security; trade and investment facilitation; fisheries management; disaster risk reduction; academic and science and technology cooperation; and tourism promotion and cultural exchange. The ocean economy and women empowerment are agreed priorities that cut across the six priorities.

The text of the Jakarta Concord can be found on the following link:

President Zuma met with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of Australia and with President Maithripala Sirisena of Sri Lanka on the sidelines of the Summit. Domestic, bilateral and multilateral issues of mutual interest were discussed.

Following the IORA Leaders' Summit, President Zuma paid a State Visit to Indonesia where he met with His Excellency President Joko Widodo at the Istana Merdeka Presidential Palace in Jakarta for bilateral talks.

President Zuma stated that South Africa and Indonesia share a strong historical bond of friendship that stretches back to the 1600s when the first people of Indonesian descent arrived in South Africa during Dutch colonial rule.

"Our relations were further strengthened over many decades with Indonesia playing a key role in supporting South Africa's struggle for freedom and justice," said President Zuma.

The two Presidents held fruitful discussions on bilateral relations,  touching on political, economic and multilateral issues of mutual concern. To this end, the two Presidents agreed to strengthen cooperation in business, trade and investment, agriculture, and defence, and to work towards removing trade barriers between South Africa and Indonesia.

The Presidents updated each other on developments in their respective regions and explored areas of possible cooperation between their respective regions.

The following documents were signed during the State Visit with a view to elevating bilateral relations to a strategic level:
- Agreement on Visa Exemption for Holders of Diplomatic, Official and Service  Passports;
- Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia and the Department of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa on Diplomatic Training and Education; and
- Plan of Action 2017-2021 for the Implementation of the Joint Declaration on a Strategic Partnership for a Peaceful and Prosperous Future between the Government of Indonesia and the Government of South Africa.

"The Plan of Action 2017-2021 document will act as a guide to drive bilateral relations into the future. We have agreed that our relations have to reflect that of strategic partners, by finding ways of intensifying our high level interaction," said the President.

President Zuma concluded his State Visit by thanking President Widodo and the government and people of Indonesia for the very warm reception afforded to him and his delegation and invited President Widodo to pay a State Visit to South Africa at a mutually agreed date.

Whilst in Jakarta, President Zuma also paid a courtesy call on Indonesia's former President Megawati Soekarnoputri, leader of the ruling party, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), and a long-standing friend of South Africa.

President Zuma was accompanied by Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation; Ms Edna Molewa, Minister of Environmental Affairs; and Mr Senzeni Zokwana, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries.

The South African Presidency
Photos: GCIS


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