FOREIGN MINISTER NKOANA-MASHABANE: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen of the media. Secretary Clinton and I have just concluded the second Strategic Dialogue, and I am happy to say to all of you that through this Strategic Dialogue we have confirmed once again our strong political relations. And we’ve agreed that through this we would continue now broadening our economic ties, especially through strengthening trade and investment opportunities, and continuing our partnership in the fight against the spread of HIV and AIDS and on areas of global interest and concerns.
On economic ties and the strengthening of trade and investment opportunities between our two countries, we concluded a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement in June 2012. And in June 2011, trade between South Africa and the United States was valued at South African rands 130 billion. Through the TIFA, it is hoped that this figure will grow and benefit both our countries.
Currently 98 percent of South Africa’s exports enter the U.S. market duty-free and quota-free under the current dispensation of the U.S. African Growth and Opportunity Act, AGOA. Africa is eagerly lobbying for its extension beyond 2015. There are already more than 600 American companies. I had one company executive sharing with us in the meeting of the business community that he will, by September, be – his company will be company number 601 American company with a presence in South Africa. And I’m also pleased to note that a number of larger South African companies like Sasol, (inaudible), Sappi, Standard Bank, and Absa are investing in the U.S. economy and thus in the process of contributing to job creation for both our countries.
As you know, the fight against HIV and AIDS remains at the forefront of the South African Government’s national priorities. And today, Secretary Clinton and I worked on means to help our countries to continue our partnership in the fight against HIV and AIDS and the spread thereof through the U.S. PEPFAR program. Through PEPFAR, the U.S. has contributed over three billion U.S. dollars to South Africa from 2004 up to 2011. We remain a strong supporter of a continued partnership with the U.S. on HIV and AIDS. And I would like also to invite them to continue to their ties with people of South Africa in this regard.
The South African Government welcomes President Obama’s recently announced new strategy towards Sub-Saharan Africa outlining the foreign policy thereof. This strategy includes the following: the strengthening of democratic institutions; the spurring of economic growth, trade and investment; the advancement of peace and security; the promotion of opportunities and development for all Africans. We believe that this strategy synchronizes and sounds – and resonates very well with our five key priority areas. But it also resonates very well with South Africa’s own foreign policy priorities of putting Africa first – Africa first on peace, security, and development, on infrastructure built, inside trade, and also focusing on beneficiation of our mineral resources through manufacturing and clean industrialization. So we see a good partnership unfolding out of these two strategies.
We believe that this strategy will help if we work in close correlation with the election of Dr. Dlamini-Zuma, who has just been elected as the new AU chair, the first African woman to be elected in this position after 49 years, the first from South Africa. But we want to make sure that she continues with our support to work for the unity, development, secure Africa and African Union, and that we enhance democracy, rule of law, and prosperity, not only for the few on the continent, but as she said earlier on, for the more than 500 million women who form almost more than 50 percent of the population of the African Union of a billion people. We believe that these plans will translate into constructive and empowering relations between the people of Africa and the U.S.
From what I’ve said here, it is clear that the Strategic Dialogue has elevated our mutual relations, and we look forward to broadening and deepening our ties in the years to come. I would want to once again personally thank Secretary Clinton for the passion, for the sincerity, for the hard work she’s put in making this dialogue, this Strategic Dialogue, to be businesslike, friendly, focused, and that I would want to say with her partnership we’ve managed to achieve a lot.
And I also want to thank her for always acceding to my invitation to come to South Africa on this very special month, when we celebrate the woman’s month in South Africa. This time around, she arrives in South Africa on the eve when South African women will be celebrating the 56th year since the 1956 historic march by South African women, 20,000 of them from all walks of life marching against apartheid and past laws in this country. Once again, dear friend, colleague, welcome to South Africa.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, Minister. And it’s always a great personal pleasure for me to be in South Africa. I want to compliment you on this very impressive new headquarters for your department, and I feel that it will even greatly enhance the already strong impression that people have of the leadership that is coming from your country.
I also want to express my appreciation to all of those who worked so hard on both sides to make this Strategic Dialogue a success. The Minister and I are the beneficiaries of an enormous amount of work that has gone on in both of our capitals, between our top officials, across each of our governments, and the results are commendable. So thanks to everyone who has participated and contributed.
My visit here is the centerpiece of a trip that began in Senegal, continued in South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, and Malawi. It will conclude with visits to Nigeria, Ghana, and Benin. And at every stop, I had the same message: America wants to build sustainable partnerships in Africa. As the Minister said, this is the message of President Obama’s recently published strategy toward Sub-Saharan Africa, and it is one that I and my colleagues work every day to achieve. And nowhere is that more true or more important than here in South Africa. We are building a partnership that adds value – saving and improving lives, spreading opportunity and sparking economic growth, strengthening the institutions of democracy, and so much more.
Let me mention four focus areas: First, our cooperation in the region and beyond. We are working together on a host of difficult issues, from Zimbabwe to the Democratic Republic of Congo to Syria, from climate change to nonproliferation. And we know we won’t agree on every issue as to how something should be accomplished, but we agree on what needs to be done. So what we do, as any two friends and certainly any two nations who share common values and common perspectives, is to work through all of the issues before us. We are forming a working group on global and African affairs to bring senior officials from our government together regularly to take our cooperation to the next level. I’ll have an opportunity to speak at greater length about these matters tomorrow in Cape Town.
The second is our work to expand our economic relationship. We already have strong two-way trade, but we can and must do better for both of our nations and people. That’s why the United States is committed to helping South Africa grow your economy, and I’m pleased that our Export-Import Bank and South Africa’s Industrial Development Corporation have signed a $2 billion agreement to provide credit guarantees to stimulate the growth of South Africa’s renewable energy sector. And a new partnership between USAID and the South African-based firm Cadiz will make up to $150 million available to small-and-medium-sized businesses in South Africa with the hope of creating more than 20,000 jobs.
We also recognize that strengthening South Africa’s education system, like in any country, is essential to your economic future. So we are launching the school capacity innovation program to fund the scale-up of new approaches to teacher training, an innovative $7.5 million public-private partnership between the ELMA Foundation, USAID, J.P. Morgan, and designed in collaboration with the South African Department of Education. I’m also announcing today a $500,000 opportunity grants program, which will help talented South African students who need financial assistance to study in the United States by covering visa testing and application fees, as well as international travel. One of the most heartbreaking things I see from time to time as Secretary of State are meritorious students around the world who get admitted into our very competitive universities and then don’t have the money to come. So we want to help those in South Africa who find themselves in that position.
The third area is our shared fight against HIV/AIDS. As the Minister has said, we’ve committed and invested billions of dollars over the last seven or eight years. And together, the United States and South Africa have saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of South African men, women, and children. Now, we know that South Africa’s ready to take the lead, and under the framework that will be signed tomorrow, South Africa will be increasing its own investment and taking more responsibility for managing this epidemic. I’ve spoken at length about our goal of achieving an AIDS-free generation, and we will see this fight through to the end with our partners and with the leadership and the model that South Africa is setting.
The final area is expanding our cooperation into new issues and is quite a list. I welcome the decision by South Africa’s Department of Science and Technology to join the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, a major public-private partnership that was launched two years ago to help 100 million households adopt clean cookstoves and fuels by 2020. We’re also creating a new cyber working group to identify the common cyber threats and national priorities to build capacity to fight cyber crime and coordinate in international forums.
We’re also working to enhance gender equality, an issue of special importance not only to the Minister and myself, but especially during this month when South Africa celebrates the many, many contributions that women made against apartheid and the fight for freedom. I’m delighted to announce that South Africa’s Minister of Women, Children, and People With Disabilities has confirmed her nation’s commitment as a founding member to the Equal Futures Partnership, an initiative that fosters women’s political participation and economic empowerment by bringing governments together with multilateral organizations, the private sector, and civil society.
Finally, I want to say a brief word about an issue that doesn’t get nearly enough attention in the world, and that’s child marriage. This is an issue that the Elders have taken on. And it’s good that they have, because an estimated one in three girls in the developing world are married before the age of 18. That means they are less likely to get an education, more likely to encounter life-threatening health problems, which shortchanges and shortcuts them and sometimes their lives, and robs their communities and their countries of their skills and talents.
Yesterday, when I had the great honor and personal delight of visiting Madiba, I talked with Graca Machel at their home about the commitment that the Elders, of which she is a member, has made. And I support the Girls Not Brides partnership founded by President Mandela. The United States will intensify our diplomacy and development work to end child marriage, and it’s a personal commitment of mine as well as a great value that South Africa, the United States, and so many people around the world share.
So Minister, we have a full and formidable agenda, but we’re chipping away at it, and I believe that both of us plus our teams are more than up to it. But again, thank you for your warm hospitality here, and I’m delighted to have this chance to see you again on a personal level and to trade ideas on the important opportunities and challenges facing us.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Excellencies. Now I know ideally, we should be taking 40 questions, but we only have time for four, so let’s start. Anne Gearan from Washington Post, and (inaudible). Let’s take the first two. There’s a microphone there.
QUESTION: Hello. Madam Secretary, does the defection of the Syrian Prime Minister spell the end of the Assad regime? If so, what is your prediction for how long Assad can hold on? Looking ahead to your meetings in Turkey, can you tell us a bit about whether you’re considering new assistance to the rebels or the Syrian opposition?
And to the Minister, is South Africa now prepared to support new action at the UN Security Council, such as sanctions? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, let me begin by saying that of course, we noticed the Prime Minister’s defection yesterday. That’s the latest in a line of such defections. And the opposition is becoming increasingly coordinated and effective. It now reportedly holds territory from northern Aleppo to the Turkish border. It’s also seized regime weapons, including tanks. And it is a very difficult time for the people of Syria who are caught in this terrible violence.
But I hope that we will look at the urgent tasks that I think confront the people of Syria and the international community and think through how we can address them. First, we must figure out ways to hasten the day when the bloodshed ends and the political transition begins. We have to be sure that we’re working with the international community to bring that day about and to be very clear of our expectations of both the government and the opposition about ending the violence and beginning the political transition.
Second, we’ve got to address the desperate humanitarian needs of those suffering inside Syria and those who have fled. These are growing by the day. The UN and neighboring countries are asking for more assistance, and we have to work together to meet their needs.
Third, I do think we can begin talking about and planning for what happens next, the day after the regime does fall. I’m not going to put a timeline on it. I can’t possibly predict it, but I know it’s going to happen, as does most observers around the world.
So we have to make sure that the state’s institutions stay intact. We have to make sure that we send very clear expectations about avoiding sectarian warfare. Those who are attempting to exploit the misery of the Syrian people, either by sending in proxies or sending in terrorist fighters, must recognize that that will not be tolerated, first and foremost by the Syrian people.
We have to think about what we can do to support a Syrian-led democratic transition that protects the rights of all Syrians. We have to figure out how to support the return of security and public safety and how to get their economy up and going. As you know, I’ll be going to Istanbul to discuss these issues with the Turks.
But the intensity of the fighting in Aleppo, the defections really point out how imperative it is that we come together and work toward a good transition plan. And I would hope that everyone would recognize that the best way to get there quickest is to stop the fighting and begin a political transition to a better future for the Syrian people.
FOREIGN MINISTER NKOANA-MASHABANE: Well, I think Secretary Clinton has responded largely to your question. South Africa’s position is and has always been that no amount of bloodshed would ever take the place of a political solution to the crisis in Syria and everywhere else where a nation finds itself with an internal conflict brewing.
And as Secretary Clinton had said, we all are yearning with the people of Syria for a Syrian-led return to normalcy. And what would hasten that would be how do we hasten the end of bloodshed, how humanitarian organizations are given space to do what they expected to be doing. South Africa has always been say – condemning violent attacks from both sides, from both the opposition and government, and use of force on ordinary civilians.
So the solution to the crisis in Libya – I’m sorry, in Syria – is going to be political. And the sooner we quicken our steps as the international community to support these people of Syria, the better. But nothing will ever take the place of the Syrians themselves coming up with a made-in-Syria solution to their problem, supported by the international community.
So South Africa’s position yesterday, today, and tomorrow remains the same. While we is going to be supporting sanctions and this and that, reality is the Security Council had had several discussions on these matters. As Secretary Clinton has said, we all agreed this carnage has to stop. We always been grappling with the how we should quicken steps, how we should help the Syrian people to resolve this problem, supporting largely the Arab League and the GCC Council in their own region to resolve these problems.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) from SABC. I just wanted to find out if there’s any conclusion that has been made on AGOA, whether it will be extended. And if so, to – what would be the timeframes?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I can tell you that the United States is strongly committed to extending the African Growth and Opportunity Act. It is the centerpiece of our policy, and we want to see South Africa included in an extension. We’re going to start working on this when the new Congress comes in after the elections this year. So I can promise you our best efforts to make the case to get it extended, to make sure South Africa is included in it. That’s the position of the Obama Administration, and we’re going to do our very best to make sure that is done.
FOREIGN MINISTER NKOANA-MASHABANE: I think just on this issue, we welcome this commitment that comes from President Obama’s Administration brought to us through Secretary Clinton and would want to take this opportunity to thank your Administration for that, but also to just say that looking at the kinds of goods and services that enter the American market through this Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, we are just but beginning to diversify the beneficiated goods and services that enter that market, taking advantage of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act – reality is South Africa with relative know-how in value add if you remove us on the list. So you remain with still commodities entering the American market through the AGOA process, and that does not necessarily strengthen the pronouncement that was made by President Obama on the outlook of the future strategic vision on how the American Administration would want to engage with Sub-Saharan Africa.
MODERATOR: Last two questions, Anne Look, Voice of America, and Nicolas (inaudible), the Business Daily. Those will be the last two questions.
QUESTION: Hi. In light of the summit going on in Kampala today and tomorrow, I just wanted to turn quickly to the ongoing violence in the DRC. Rwanda and Uganda have been accused of supporting the M-23 rebel movement, and the U.S. has cut off military aid to Rwanda. I’m just curious, how far is the U.S. willing to go to cut off outside support for the rebels? And what could you tell us about your meetings during your visits of the past two days with regional leaders?
And then to the Minister, you talked earlier about Africans finding – Africa finding solutions to African problems. So I’m just curious what you’re hoping to see come out of this summit. What are your hopes?
FOREIGN MINISTER NKOANA-MASHABANE: Which summit are you referring to?
QUESTION: The Great Lakes.
FOREIGN MINISTER NKOANA-MASHABANE: Great Lakes. Okay, okay.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first I have discussed the issues about the ongoing violence in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo with every official I have met, because we view this as a serious threat to regional security and stability. I do want to commend the meeting that is being held in Kampala. The decision by Rwanda, Uganda, and the DRC to resume talks is an important step. We hope that these talks will be guided by the principles of restraint and mutual respect for sovereignty. Because M-23 is certainly the most active, well-known armed group threatening the people of eastern Congo today, but not the only one. There has been a steady trail of rampaging violence – rape, killing, and terrible human rights abuses – over the last several years by renegade criminal bands.
And we support the efforts of the DRC, and we urge all the states in the region, including Rwanda, to work together to cut off support for the rebels in the M-23, to disarm them and to bring their leaders to justice. I think it’s imperative that we move quickly to act on whatever decisions come out of the summit in Kampala. So we will await a report from that, but President Museveni certainly assured me that he was going to work toward such a resolution.
FOREIGN MINISTER NKOANA-MASHABANE: Well, a few days ago, I hosted the SADC Ministerial Committee on the Organ on Politics and Security. There were about 50 ministers in this room from all over SADC. Four of SADC members are also members of the Great Lakes region. We took opportunity of that meeting to receive a report on what’s taking place in – at that – the security developments or insecurity along the east part of Congo, and all informed further by the report that is for public consumption from the UN Security Council about the level of insecurity in that area.
That meeting concluded that we needed to send a security analysis team into the DRC, into the neighboring countries, on a fact-finding mission. We have received their report. They’ll also be reporting or presenting their findings into that meeting that you had referred to of the leaders of the Great Lakes. So both leaders from the Great Lakes and leaders of SADC are looking forward towards a positive outcome of the meeting of heads of states of the Great Lakes, four of which, as I said earlier on, also belong to SADC.
What are we asking for? That the DRC be given an opportunity to rebuild that country peacefully, and that they remain a secure area or country, that they focus on issues around development and sustainability of (inaudible) in that particular area. We owe this, all of us, as neighboring countries and regions around the DRC, but also to work with of the people of the DRC to capacitate institutions of security and generally of governance. That’s what we hope to achieve with this.
The SADC summit that will be taking place in less than a week’s time in Maputo would also be receiving a report and also further making recommendations on how SADC and the Great Lakes, and indeed, broadly, the African Union, talking about African solutions for African problems. We will always look forward to the support of the international community. But international community should not find us folding our arms and not knowing how to figure out on how to deal with our own backyards. So these are the steps that leaders in this region have taken, widen the (inaudible) support from friends like the U.S., as Madam Secretary had said early on.
MODERATOR: Last question.
QUESTION: (Inaudible.) Can I ask both of you what impact the strong growth in relationships between both South Africa and Africa and China is having on your relationship between South Africa and the United States? What is the impact of that growth?
FOREIGN MINISTER NKOANA-MASHABANE: We – from the South African point of view is that we look at compatibility and collaboration, and we agree with both of our partners in the U.S. and China that the time for just focusing on extraction of mineral resources of our continent to take somewhere else has ended, that leaders of this continent would want partners to come in and work with us to beneficiate on our natural resources, which will (inaudible) manufacturing and bring about clean industrialization.
We were in China a few weeks ago and President Zuma was very, very clear when he participated in the focus meetings as to the un-sustainability of extractive industries that don’t look at beneficiation. And we got a commitment even there that this is what we expect. We think that it makes business sense for both American companies and wherever else, that now that the African continent has become the second-fastest growth point, it’s good to do business with the African continent in a just manner, because you are assured of good returns for your good investments. So we love this love affair that’s growing. It’s welcome, from both east and west, as long as we agree on the terms as determined by us, that our partners support, that which the African leaders are seeing and have committed to.
What do we promise in return? Good governance, transparency, rule of law, don’t bribe; there will be no bribe-takers, so that we continue to bring about skills development, we grow the economies, we change the lives ordinary – of ordinary civilians in Africa for the better. And because it’s the women’s month, yes, in particular for women of this continent, who were never given an opportunity to become main participants in the economic well-being of their continent.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, from the United States perspective, we brought a large, distinguished business delegation because we want to see more U.S. companies investing in South Africa. It’s a regional hotspot for innovation and entrepreneurship. As the Minister said, we already have 600 companies doing business here. We’re about to apparently have the 601st, and I want to see many more in the months to come.
And when our companies do invest, we want to make sure that it is the people of South Africa that reap the benefits, that our companies are good stewards, that the economic opportunities we help to create generate broad-based prosperity. We don’t want to see the benefits, the bulk of the benefits of our economic engagement, to go to a small group of elites or to foreign companies. We want it to empower people in line with the aspirations of the South African Government and people. And I would echo the minister’s point, especially women and young people.
So part of what we talked about in our business roundtable today was how American businesses can bring skills to be transferred to provide education and skill training for young South Africans. For example, the representative from Boeing said air travel’s going to explode in South Africa and across the continent; we’re going to need engineers, mechanics, all kinds of trained people in order to support that expansion. And that’s just one example of the kind of partnership we are seeking.
And I would only add that it’s only natural for South Africa to want to expand trade with everyone in the world. It would be political malpractice if the government did not seek out economic opportunities everywhere. The United States does the same. We trade all over the world, including in China. Competition and increased trade are good for the global economy, and that’s especially important when we’re all trying to catalyze additional growth coming out of the slow-down.
What we ask for, and what I think you heard the Minister saying, is let’s be sure we have a level playing field. Let’s be sure we have rule of law, that contracts are respected, that intellectual property is protected, that we have the rules of the road, so to speak, up to international standards and norms. And as an emerging economy and a democracy, South Africa brings so much to the global economy. So our hope is that we will see growth that is broad-based, that creates inclusive, sustainable prosperity in South Africa, that also benefits much of the rest of the continent and even beyond, but that it will also set the standard for what it means to be making investment and doing business in an economy, in a democracy like South Africa.
So I think we’re all on the same page. Thank you.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much. That concludes the press briefing.