Deputy Minister calls for closer economic cooperation

Friday, September 18, 2009

Pretoria - In the face of the current global economic crisis, African countries need to forge closer economic cooperation in order to work towards building integrated economies.

This is the view of International Relations and Cooperation Deputy Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim.

Addressing the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) conference on Thursday, Minister Ebrahim said as a response to the crisis, Africa's leaders had decided to build the African Economic Community (AEC) which will aim at strengthening existing regional economic structures.

"This we are convinced is our best hope in achieving better inter-and intra regional trade relations," the minister said.

However, he noted that in some of the continent's regions, such as the Southern African Development Community, better regional integration was still lacking.

"On the other hand our efforts are frustrated by the choices of our partners, which apparently are not in the best interests of the continent."

Strong coalitions among the countries of the south could help open-up trade and economic opportunities which otherwise would have been overlooked had it were not for efforts to build such relations.

Minister Ebrahim said it was of note that Africa has become central to the struggle for influence over global affairs. He pledged tactical engagements among the continent's countries saying it was in everybody's interest to do that considering the central role that African countries still play in global affairs.

"In today's world, our tactical manoeuvres to be listened to by structures such as the G8, have started to enjoy support from a number of progressive forces across the globe, especially within organs of civil society," he said.

The SAIIA conference, which Ebrahim regarded as a major contribution to on-going efforts towards a better Africa, is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.