ASEAN, South Africa inaugurate sectoral dialogue partnership

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and South Africa has convened the inaugural ASEAN-South Africa Joint Sectoral Cooperation Committee (ASA-JSCC) meeting at the ASEAN Headquarters in Jakarta, Indonesia, marking the launch of ASEAN's formal partnership with its first Sectoral Dialogue Partner from the African continent. Earlier, the ASEAN Foreign Ministers granted the status of Sectoral Dialogue Partner to South Africa at the 56th ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting in July, 2023, in Indonesia. The First ASA-JSCC was held to provide direction and oversee all aspects of cooperation under the ASEAN-South Africa Sectoral Dialogue Partnership framework. The meeting adopted the Terms of Reference for ASA-JSCC and deliberated on several areas of future cooperation. On the political sphere, the meeting encouraged South Africa to explore cooperation in four areas of the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP), as well as in areas of peace and reconciliation, and prevention and countering terrorism and violent extremism. On the economic front, the meeting encouraged South Africa to explore practical cooperation in areas of mutual interest and benefits, including trade and investment; public-private partnership; strengthening of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs); tourism; transport; energy; critical minerals sector and mineral resources; information and communication technology; food security; halal industry; sustainable agriculture; blue economy; digital economy; fisheries; aquaculture and forestry; research and innovation; as well as science and technology. The meeting noted the four key economic partnership priorities that ASEAN would like to advance with South Africa, namely strengthening ASEAN's market integration; sustainability and decarbonisation; digital transformation; and inclusive development such as MSMEs, public-private partnership and people-to-people exchanges. On the socio-cultural sphere, the meeting explored cooperation in the areas of health, women empowerment, education and climate change; and step up efforts to enhance people-to-people contacts through exchange programmes involving youths, students, media and artists as well as scholarship programmes. The meeting also encouraged South Africa to consider undertaking cooperation activities with the ASEAN Centre for Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases (ACPHEED), ASEAN Centre for Climate Change, ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), ASEAN Centre for Sustainable Development Studies and Dialogue (ACSDSD), ASEAN Regional Mine Action Centre (ARMAC), ASEAN Foundation and AHA Centre. Further, the Meeting also welcomed South Africa's support for the implementation of the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) Work Plan IV and the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC) 2025. Both sides also agreed to develop the ASEAN-South Africa Practical Cooperation Areas which will serve as a guiding framework in achieving shared goals and corresponding priorities in the coming years. The meeting was co-chaired by Deputy Secretary-Gener al of ASEAN for Community and Corporate Affairs, Tran Duc Binh, and Deputy Minister of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa Kwati Candith Mashego-Dlamini. It was attended by Ambassador of South Africa to ASEAN Mpetjane Kgaogelo Lekgoro and members of the Committee of Permanent Representatives to ASEAN or their representatives and their respective delegations. Representatives from Timor-Leste were also in attendance as observer./. Source: Vietnam News Agency