(2) In his introductory statement, Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, the leader of the U.S. Delegation, reiterated the U.S. Government's commitment to co-operate with SADC in particular and africa in general. Deputy Secretary of State Talbott stressed the importance of progress in four key areas to be addressed: promoting SADC's regional economic integration, strengthening the region's ability to address security challenges, tackling the scourge of HIV/AIDS, and building the capacity to prepare for and manage disasters.
(3) The Forum was also attended by Ministers, Deputy Ministers, and senior officials from all fourteen SADC member states, senior officials from nine U.S. Government agencies, representatives from the Association of SADC National Chambers of Commerce and Industry and from the newly formed U.S.-SADC Business Council.
(4) The second SADC-U.S. Forum strengthened the foundation laid at the first Forum in deepening co- operation and broadening engagement between SADC and the United States. It addressed a broad range of political, social and economic issues of common interest.
Economic Working Group
(5) The Forum discussed the multilateral trading system, Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, U.S/SADC Trade and Investment Framework Agreement and the role of the private sector. The Forum also discussed the ACP-EU Post-Lome Agreement and reviewed the state of regional integration in SADC.
(6) The Forum reaffirmed the important role regional integration plays in attracting new investment and improving economic development. It applauded the entry into force of the SADC Trade Protocol in January, 2000 after very intensive negotiations which took into consideration the specificities of member states. The Forum also noted with satisfaction the preparatory activities that have been agreed upon to launch the implementation of the Trade Protocol on 1st September 2000. The United States reiterated its willingness to assist SADC in implementing its free trade area.
(7) The U.S. delegation noted that its experiences with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) have been "win-win" situations despite differing levels of development as is the case among SADC member states. The Forum recognized the importance of creating an environment to enhance the intra-regional trade, to attract investment and create new jobs and economic growth across southern Africa. To that effect, the United States agreed to extend financial support for a period of two years for the hiring of a regional trade expert by the SADC Secretariat and offered to provide technical assistance in areas such as rules of origin, product standards, customs harmonization and dispute settlement. The United States committed to fund seminars on WTO issues and will continue to assist with streamlining border crossing procedures. The United States also agreed to SADC's request to provide support to the technical working groups responsible for ensuring implementation of the Trade Protocol at the national level.
(8) The Forum focused on the urgency of putting in place policies that attract both foreign and domestic investment needed to create employment opportunities and generate economic growth and prosperity. The forum agreed that negotiation of a regional Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) between the United States and SADC should be expedited. The Forum agreed that upon completion of the TIFA, the first meeting of its Trade and Investment Council should explore other possible agreements to reduce trade barriers to U.S.-SADC commerce and resolve any trade disputes amicably.
(9) The Forum recognized the need to embrace all stakeholders. To this effect, the Forum agreed that the SADC Secretariat and the United States should cooperate in arranging a meeting with private sector representatives to ensure the effective implementation of a SADC free trade area.
(10) The United States expressed its deep appreciation of SADC countries' support for the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, (AGOA). The forum agreed that AGOA was a significant breakthrough in U.S.-African relations and that it provides the freest access to U.S. markets short of a free trade agreement. The bill will eliminate quotas on textiles and apparel for eligible Sub-Saharan countries. The United States postulated that these trade preferences would be a strong incentive to new investment in the region. SADC expressed the wish for more information about the act, particularly the eligibility requirements.
(11) The Forum welcomed the successful conclusion of the New ACP-EU Partnership Agreement. On the request for a WTO waiver for the continuation of non- reciprocal trade preferences for African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) countries in the Post-Lome period, the United States agreed in principle to support the waiver.
(12) On the next WTO round, SADC made a detailed presentation of its position. The United States emphasized the potential role biotechnology can play in ensuring food security in the SADC region and called for the rules governing trade in biotechnology to be based on sound scientific knowledge. The Forum called for the elimination of trade distorting agricultural export subsidies but recognized the need to take into account the specificities of each country, especially small, vulnerable and net food importing countries in the negotiations on agriculture. The Forum called for increased market access.
(13) The Forum welcomed the constructive suggestions offered by the Association of SADC National Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the U.S.-SADC Business Council for enhancing both the further economic integration of sadc and the growth of trade and investment links between SADC and the United States. The two business groups agreed to maintain a dialogue among themselves on the issues raised at the forum with a view to informing the United States and SADC governments of additional steps needed to improve the climate for increased trade and investment.
(14) On the political front, the Forum considered the regional political situation, specifically in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola and Lesotho. The roundtable touched on conflict resolution and management, the problem of refugees and small arms, democracy, good governance and the rule of law.
(15) The Forum confirmed the need for political stability and security in southern Africa as a prerequisite for economic growth and prosperity in the region.
(16) On the DRC, the Forum expressed strong support for the efforts of SADC leaders, the OAU and the UN to support urgently implementation of the peace process agreed at Lusaka in July 1999. The roundtable welcomed the parties' renewed commitment to the cease-fire agreement signed in April 2000. The forum recognised the importance of launching the Inter-Congolese National Dialogue, and expressed its strong support for the facilitation of this dialogue by Sir Ketumile Masire. The Forum also recognized the importance of the Joint Military Commission (JMC) of the Lusaka Peace Process and called for support to the JMC for it to perform its function in order to allow for an orderly withdrawal of foreign troops from the DRC territory as specified in the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement.
(17) On Angola, the Forum agreed that the rebel forces under the command of Jonas Savimbi continue to constitute the principal obstacle to peace. It expressed strong support for the recent UN Security Council resolution on enforcement of UN sanctions against UNITA and agreed on the need for strengthening mechanisms for the enforcement of sanctions. The Forum called upon the UN to speedily take follow-up actions emanating from the Fowler Report. The Rorum pledged to do more to strengthen policing of trafficking in illicit diamonds, noting the importance of making a clear distinction between legitimately produced diamonds and illicit diamonds.
(18) With regard to Lesotho, the Forum agreed on the need for a peaceful resolution to the constitutional crisis. It commended the Government of Lesotho for pursuing an inclusive political solution despite its clear mandate in the free and fair May 1998 elections and noted that elections will be held between April and May 2001.
(19) The Forum recognized the importance of effective regional cooperation in dealing with regional conflicts and SADC described its regional defense and security structures. The United States outlined its experiences in other parts of the world with regional security arrangements. The United States stressed that its ability to assist effectively in regional conflict prevention, management and resolution depends to a great extent on the existence and effectiveness of regional organizations. SADC welcomed the U.S. offer to fund a seminar on conflict prevention and management in Cape Town at the Center for Conflict Resolution and to fund training in early-warning and conflict prevention by the Washington-based Fund for Peace. The Forum noted the approval of the African Center for Strategic Studies (acss) Seminar to be held in Gaborone in July 2000.
(20) On the refugee issue, the Forum agreed that refugees in Africa should receive the same support as refugees elsewhere and also stressed the importance of addressing the root causes of refugee movements in the region: armed conflicts. The U.S noted that security and access are key prerequisites for providing refugees with support. The Forum also noted the ongoing U.S. contribution to the protection, care and maintenance of refugees in the SADC region. The United States expressed its willingness to make its migration program resources more accessible and relevant to SADC member states.
(21) SADC reported on its efforts to formulate and implement a regional conventional arms policy, including small arms. The United States urged the conclusion this year of the UN protocol on small arms. The United States and SADC agreed to undertake annual working consultations on ways to address the problem of small arms and light weapons. SADC welcomed the U.S. offer to send technical assistance teams for exchanges of views on surplus weapons and excess stockpiles. The United States suggested to undertake a joint U.S.-SADC communiquq by foreign ministers on the margins of the 2000 United Nations General Assembly meeting which will address adherence to UN sanctions and restraint in the sale of conventional arms.
(22) The Forum welcomed the SADC region's continued consolidation of a culture of democracy, good governance and the rule of law. In particular, the Forum noted that Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa successfully held elections in 1999 and Zimbabwe held a constitutional referendum in February 2000. Continued assistance is needed, however, to improve election administration and processes.
(23) The Forum noted that efforts are underway to uphold the rule of law by strengthening police and judicial structures and by adhering to national constitutions. In addition, watchdog institutions continue to be created to defend human rights.
(24) The Forum observed that in terms of civil and political rights, freedom of the press must be upheld.
(25) Consensus emerged that all coups are anathema. The Forum noted SADC's leadership role in the campaign to exclude the participation of governments that had come to power through military coups or unconstitutional means in OAU meetings and unequivocally confirmed support for this principle.
(26) The Forum reaffirmed its acceptance of the Global Coalition for Africa's 25 principles against corruption and noted that SADC member states have established various institutions to combat corruption, including offices of ombudspersons and anti-corruption commissions. The Forum welcomed U.S. support for anti-corruption initiatives in the region.
(27) The Forum welcomed Zimbabwe's frank and detailed historical overview of the land issue in that country. The U.S. government affirmed the importance of land reform in Zimbabwe and reiterated its willingness in principle to provide technical assistance to help Zimbabwe to resolve this issue quickly and in a manner that is consistent with the principles agreed to at the September 1998 Land Reform Conference.
(28) The Forum recognized the continuing threat to lives and economic development in SADC countries posed by land mines. The Forum commends the ongoing SADC initiatives, which, inter alia, focus on the ability of the affected member states to establish sustainable demining capabilities. SADC welcomed U.S. efforts in several member states to assist with mine awareness, detection and removal. The Forum welcomed the planned visit of a U.S. humanitarian demining assessment team later in 2000 to evaluate Zambia's land mine removal requirements. The United States agreed to strive to meet Mozambique's request for demining technology and to prioritize equipment needs.
(29) The Forum agreed that crime, small arms and narcotics trafficking, and terrorism are all major threats in southern Africa and agreed that effective border controls are essential to combating these regional problems. SADC noted the bilateral efforts of the United States and Botswana, in consultation with SARPCCO, to establish an International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) in Botswana and recognized that it could make a major contribution toward fulfilling the training needs of SADC member state law enforcement agencies. The United States agreed to provide assistance to the SADC region for a border control project and training on combating small arms trafficking.
(30) The Forum expressed its firm support for the completion by the end of 2000 of the Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime and its protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children. The United States and SADC also expressed support for the protocol against illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, their parts and components and ammunition as mandated by UN General Assembly Resolutions 53/11 and 53/114.
(31) The Forum recognized HIV/AIDS as a threat to regional and international security as well as a major development challenge in the region. It focused particularly on the impact of HIV/AIDS on SADC, and highlighted the importance of pursuing multi-sectoral approaches to contain the spread of HIV/AIDS. SADC welcomed the U.S. announcement of the $15 million "Project Storm Warning," a sub- regional development assistance program that focuses on combating HIV/AIDS transmission along major transportation corridors. The Forum reviewed the social, economic, political and security aspects of HIV/AIDS as well as the dual strategy, the elements of which are prevention and care for the affected. The United States announced formally the $35 million Leadership and Investment in Fighting an Epidemic (life) initiative for southern Africa. SADC expressed concern at the high cost of HIV/AIDS drugs. They called upon the U.S. Government to use its influence to make patenting laws more flexible for drugs to be manufactured cheaper within the region and to support research programs. The United States announced that President Clinton had signed an executive order on May 10 intended to help make AIDS-related drugs and medical technology more accessible and affordable in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Regional Disaster Preparedness and Management
(32) The Forum expressed deep sadness at the terrible human and economic suffering, particularly in Mozambique, as a result of the recent natural flooding. It commended the response of SADC member states as well as of the United States and the international community to this disaster. The Forum reiterated the need to establish a mechanism for co-ordinated disaster preparedness and management in the SADC region. This mechanism would also be responsible for mobilizing resources that would be used to obviate the effects of disasters whenever they occur. To this effect, the U.S. Government agreed to make an initial contribution of US$200,000 to kickstart the development of a formal mechanism for disaster preparedness at the SADC Secretariat. Though floods were the latest disaster to befall the southern Africa region, the area is prone to other natural disasters. The Forum also discussed issues of regional water management and food security. It welcomed the U.S. offer to assist in the strengthening of SADc and member states disaster management organizations, to provide technical assistance for enhancing the region's water management capabilities, and to help organize a regional disaster management seminar
(33) The Forum agreed to maintain the momentum gathered by the two fora by making follow-ups to ensure that projects are implemented. To this end, the Forum recognized the importance of meeting annually at a mutually agreed time and place to pursue issues of mutual interest and importance to SADC and to the United States. It called upon the U.S. Special Representative to SADC and the Executive Secretary of SADC to convene meetings of the U.S.-SADC Forum Steering Committee made up of representatives from the United States, the SADC Secretariat, the SADC Troika and other southern African institutions as appropriate to provide coordinated follow-up on actions agreed at the first and second SADC-US Fora. This steering committee will meet before the August 2000 SADC summit and will be responsible for ensuring the execution of follow-on projects and for evaluating their effectiveness, as well as developing an agenda for the next Forum, which participants recommended be held in Washington, D.C., in the second half of 2001.
(34) The Forum thanked the government and the people of the Republic of Mozambique for their generous Hospitality. It expressed appreciation for the excellent facilities made available that indeed contributed to the successful deliberations. The Forum also thanked ministers and their delegations from the SADC region, the SADC Secretariat for its tireless efforts, the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State and his delegation, the U.S. Special Representative to SADC, and representatives from the business communities for their invaluable commitment and contribution to the success of the Forum. (end text)