Starting from August 2017, South Africa will chair the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and use its tenure to fast-track the implementation of the SADC Industrial Strategy.
The country is accelerating the integration agenda through the implementation of the SADC-Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa-East African Community Free Trade Area.
South Africa will continue with its involvement in mediation efforts, peacekeeping operations, and peacemaking initiatives in Lesotho, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Mozambique, South Sudan, Somalia and Libya.
Trade with traditional partners in the West remains a significant contributor to the economy. The country will continue to partner with the United States and work together on issues of mutual interest such as the full renewal of African Growth and Opportunity Act.
The country values its relationship with the PRC. China is one of South Africa’s most important and key strategic partners. The PRC is recognised ‘as the sole government and authority representing the whole of China’.
South Africa has reiterated its position and commitment to the ‘One China Policy’ and considers Taiwan as an integral part of the PRC.
At continental partnership level, the Joint Africa-European Union (EU) Strategy remains an important long-term framework for continued cooperation.
The Economic Partnership Agreement with the EU came into force in September 2016, thus providing new market access opportunities for South African products.
Almost all South African products, about 99 percent, will have preferential market access in the EU.
About 96 percent of the products will enter the EU market without being subjected to customs duties or quantitative restrictions.
The Southern African Customs Union’s Mercosur Preferential Trade Agreement has also entered into force, providing preferential access to over 1 000 tariff lines. This is an agreement that promotes south-south trade.
South Africa’s cooperative partnerships with other regions are bearing fruit. The BRICS New Development Bank has recorded encouraging progress.
Government welcomes the Goa Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) Heads of State and government's decision to establish the BRICS Rating Agency to assist one another in assessing economic paths.
South Africa is also pleased with agreements with its BRICS partners in the field of agriculture. It will implement off-take agreements on the export of pulses, mangos and pork to India.
The country will also export 20 000 tons of beef to China per year for a period of 10 years. It will continue to pursue the reform of the international system because the current configuration undermines the ability of developing countries to contribute and benefit meaningfully.
Occupation of Palestine
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the occupation of Palestine. The expansion of Israeli settlements undermines global efforts aimed at realising the two-state solution and the Oslo accord. Government has reiterated its support for the Palestinian course.
Western Sahara issue
South Africa also hopes that the readmission of Morocco to the African Union (AU) should serve as a catalyst to resolve the Western Sahara issue.
The Armed Forces Day on 21 February 2017 will be used to mark the centenary commemorations of the tragic sinking of the SS Mendi, which left 646 soldiers dead in 1917.
International Albinism Awareness Day
The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa of 1996 accords equal rights and dignity to all South Africans. The United Nations proclaimed 13 June as International Albinism Awareness Day, which will be used to raise awareness and eliminate the discrimination or harm that compatriots with albinism are subjected to in some areas.
People with albinism are also human beings and abusive behaviour against them should stop.
The myth about albinism should also come to an end.
“Working together as fellow South Africans, we have it within our power to transform this country into the land of plenty for all, where the nightmare of apartheid will just be a faint memory of the past.” – OR Tambo
“The Year of Oliver Reginald Tambo: Unity in Action Together Moving South Africa Forward.”