IBSA taking concrete form: Pranab Mukherjee

May 13th, 2008 - 2:52 am ICT by admin  

By Fakir Hassen
Somerset West (South Africa), May 13 (IANS) The IBSA (India-Brazil-South Africa) initiative that aims to extend South-South cooperation is beginning to take shape five years after it was initiated, Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said at the 5th Ministerial Commission Meeting of IBSA here. “As I see it, IBSA has completed an important section of its journey in the past five years … we have been able to move working together hand-in-hand to a stage where the concept has begun taking concrete and tangible form,” Mukherjee said at the end of the meeting, hosted by his South African counterpart, Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, and also attended by Brazilian Minister of External Relations Celso Amorim Monday.

“I think we all like what we see today. At the same time, we are fully conscious that we have a great deal of work to do before this journey can be considered to have reached its desired destination. This journey is naturally important for India, Brazil and South Africa.

“It should be of equal significance and relevance for the development as we establish IBSA as a kind of model for co-operation among the countries of the South.”

Echoing the sentiments of Amorim, Mukherjee said that IBSA had recently become increasingly visible on the international horizon, but more work was necessary in this regard.

“It is gratifying to note that all officials are preparing intensely for the next Summit and have begun to look at the post New Delhi Summit scenario - we would need to focus on IBSA beyond 2008.”

Mukherjee said that the governments of the three countries had invested a considerable amount of political will in realising the objectives of IBSA, but that it was still work in progress.

He also expressed satisfaction that the civil society segment of IBSA was growing on the periphery of the political meetings.

“We are confident that by continuing to consolidate and intensify our dialogue and co-operation, we would scale new heights in the months and years to come.”

Mukherjee said the success of IBSA required a substantive economic undertaking.

“Our leaders have put down the target of up to US$ 10 million by 2010. I am encouraged by the fact that at the end of 2007 we had exceeded a combined turnover of US$ 10 million.

“If you are able to resolve connectivity problems in a timely manner and bring about greater interaction among the business communities, we should be able to achieve the set target.

“I am also encouraged by the fact that investment is growing amongst us. This tendency needs to be encouraged. Economic growth cannot happen in isolation. It is essential for us in democratic societies to ensure that all sections of society derive benefits from such growth and participate in the growth process. The three countries are focused on ensuring inclusive growth.

“We have already benefited from sharing experiences and programmes in this regard. Our three countries are in the process of developing a Social Development Strategy for IBSA. We must expedite work on this while continuing to strengthen the process of learning from each other’s experiences.”

Mukherjee said the benefits of South-South co-operation had to be shared not only between the three IBSA countries but also with other developing countries.

“It is for this reason that we attach great importance to this forum and to its successful development and strengthening, he added.

Mukherjee said he was looking forward to welcoming his counterparts in New Delhi, where the next IBSA Summit will be held in October.

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