Mbeki lashes WTO, globalisation for fuelling SA`s woes
By Peter Galli, in Business Report
25 May 2000
San Francisco - The failure of globalisation to effectively address
the needs of developing countries was one of the main reasons behind
South Africa`s high unemployment rate and lack of foreign investment,
President Thabo Mbeki said yesterday.
He was addressing several hundred businessmen and investors at the
lavish Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco before heading off to the
headquarters of software developer Oracle in Silicon Valley.
Mbeki was accompanied by Jeff Radebe, the minister of public
enterprises, foreign affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, trade
and industry minister Alec Erwin, communications minister Ivy
Matsepe-Casaburri and Sheila Sisulu, South Africa`s ambassador to the
Globalisation had benefited the wealthy northern countries while doing
nothing for poor nations in the south, he said, launching a stinging
attack on the World Trade Organisation (WTO) which, he said, allowed
developing countries to be disadvantaged by a lack of capital flows
and the negative trade rules and regulations currently in place.
"There is little doubt that we all need to work together to overcome
the challenge of development. This will require a massive resource
transfer into developing countries and a broad-based development round
at the WTO to address these issues. As developing countries we have to
be recognised. We want to be part of the rule making process so that
our needs can be recognised and addressed."
While developing countries had to take responsibility for growth, the
trade and structural barriers that stood in the way of this had to go.
"We need better managed developmental assistance, and there has to be
a major refocus in the way decisions are made about development. We
also need to put in place a structure that can better facilitate the
flows of investor funds into developing countries."
Developing countries were always being told that they needed to
undertake economic and trade reforms to become more compatible with -
and attractive to - the developed world. But this did not always
help. Mbeki said South Africa`s fundamentals were stable and sound, it
had solid fiscal and monetary policies in place and had liberalised
trade and reformed its tariffs.
"Yet, in spite of this, investment flows into South Africa have been
disappointing, helping keep poverty and unemployment levels high.
"Many of us are punished by the development and trade structures in
place, which benefit the wealthy countries that wrote them and
continue to impact negatively on us."
On a more positive note, the president said that since arriving in the
US on Sunday, he was more positive than ever that these challenges
could be overcome.
However, he shied away from specifically discussing Zimbabwe and its
effect on investor sentiment. He also failed to mention rand weakness
or to discuss investor concerns about labour legislation.