Parliament joins calls to strengthen multilateral system

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

South African Parliamentarians have thrown their voice behind international efforts to halt the weakening of the multilateral fora governing trade and investments.

“I call on all of us to collectively resit all efforts to weaken the multilateral approach to international trade, which is important to the promotion of stability in the global economy,” said South African Member of Parliament Peace Mabe.

Mabe made the comments in Switzerland at a meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s (IPU) Standing Committee on Sustainable Development, Finance and Trade.

Held in Geneva on Monday, the meeting debated how Parliaments of the world could assist in addressing global economic challenges, which include gross inequalities and differential development of the countries.

“We have to guard against countries that want to develop and prosper at the expense of others. South Africa’s economy has not grown at the pace needed to lift people out of poverty,” said Mabe, who also represents South Africa in the committee.

She stressed that public finances remain constrained, limiting the ability of government to expand investment in economic and social development.

Alongside Monday’s meeting, there were meetings of two other Standing Committees of the IPU, dealing with matters of peace and international security, as well as democracy and human rights.  

The Parliament of South Africa is represented in the standing committees by various members of the eight-member delegation.

At the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Summit in July, South Africa’s Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies urged fellow BRICS countries to strengthen and deepen their relations in a time when the world’s trading systems are in turbulence.

“It is no secret. We are living in a time of enormous turbulence and crisis for the global multilateral system. We need to strengthen and deepen our relations,” said Davies at the summit held in Johannesburg.

At the time, Davies said the current environment poses an enormous challenge.

“What we’ve seen is a number of stronger economies, particularly one, showing great scepticism to multilateral trading system, which is not good for any of us. We are in the midst of trade wars. South Africa is not a major protagonist [but is hit by] collateral damage,” he said. –