International Relations and Cooperation Minister, Dr Naledi Pandor, has reiterated South Africa’s support for international efforts to tackle the health and socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Minister said the country regards “access to affordable vaccines for all” as one of the immediate priorities.
Pandor was speaking at meetings of the Group of 20 (G20) taking place in Matera, Italy, on Tuesday.
The Minister arrived in the Italian city on Monday and was representing South Africa at several meetings of the G20 Ministers.
She further said South Africa and India, in the context of the World Trade Organisation, are leading efforts to get a waiver on the intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines.
“Every effort must be made to support the rollout of vaccines to all. Defeating the virus is our common interest, as no one is safe until everyone is safe,” she said.
In addition, according to the department, South Africa shared the concern expressed by other G20 members regarding the impact that the global health pandemic is having on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals set by United Nations (UN) member States.
The department said ensuring sustainable development in the current global environment would require concerted engagement in the UN system and other multilateral structures such as the G20.
This includes promoting access to vaccines, post-COVID recovery, debt sustainability and liquidity, economic growth, and the improvement of the social well-being and infrastructure through increased trade and investment as well as the fair and equitable movement of goods and services.
According to the department, the Minister said G20 countries must continue to work together “to deliver a free, fair, non-discriminatory, transparent, predictable and stable trade and investment environment, and to keep our markets open”.
Speaking in a meeting focussing on development, Minister Pandor said the global health pandemic is “exacerbating poverty, inequality, unemployment and has a disproportional impact on women and youth”.
The Minister also spoke about illicit financial flows from Africa, which “drain our economies of much-needed domestic resources to fund sustainable development”.
On the margins of the G20, the Minister met with her counterparts from the Netherlands and Spain, Minister Sigrid Kaag and Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya respectively, for bilateral talks focussing on matters of mutual interest.
The G20 is the international forum that brings together the world’s major economies.
The G20 members are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, India, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union. Spain is also invited as a permanent guest. – SAnews
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