26 April 2005
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and South African President Thabo Mbeki have signed a watershed agreement that will see Asia and Africa embarking on a strategic partnership to tackle poverty and underdevelopment on the two continents.
The New Asia-Africa Strategic Partnership seeks to ensure peace, stability and security for approximately 4.6-billion people – or about 73% of the world’s population – by boosting trade between Asian and African countries and stepping up co-operation in the fight against terrorism.
The partnership was signed in Bandung, Indonesia – where the first Asian-African conference took place half a century ago – at the conclusion of the 2005 Asian-African Summit, which was attended by more than 40 heads of state as well as foreign ministers and other representatives of close on 100 countries.
Mbeki and South Africa have taken over the stewardship of the partnership process until the next Asian-African Summit, to be held in SA in 2009.
Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma meets with her Indonesian counterpart, Noer Hassan Wirajuba, in Jakarta on Tuesday to begin mapping out a programme of action and institutional mechanisms to take the new partnership forward.
Principles, plan of action
A joint statement adopted by Asian and African foreign ministers on Saturday details a rough plan of action, under the three headings of political solidarity, economic co-operation, and socio-cultural relations.
The plan sees sees the partnership tackling issues such as direct investment, capital market cooperation, market access, debt, technical assistance and capacity building programmes, sharing of technologies, and greater private sector interaction.
It also envisages “joint exploration of the Indian Ocean, including marine resources, marine scientific research, safety of navigation and communication at sea, and search and rescue operations”.
The main partnership declaration lists “poverty and underdevelopment, gender mainstreaming, communicable diseases, environmental degradation, natural disasters, drought and desertification, the digital divide, inequitable market access, and foreign debt” as “issues of common concern which call for our closer cooperation and collective action”.
The partnership, the declaration continues, will seek to “promote practical co-operation between the two continents in areas such as trade, industry, investment, finance, tourism, information and communication technology, energy, health, transportation, agriculture, water resources and fisheries.
“The [partnership] shall also address issues of common concern such as armed conflict, weapons of mass destruction, transnational organised crimes and terrorism.”
The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad), the African Union’s socio-economic development blueprint, was accepted as “the framework for engagement with Africa”.
- Partnership declaration
The summit also issued a statement on tsunami, earthquake and other natural disasters, emphasising the need to invest in the development of “proactive, integrated, multi-hazard and multi-sectoral standby arrangements and early warning system to mitigate natural disasters in the Indian Ocean Rim”.