In the article, Diplomacy is in a time warp when economy needs all hands on deck (January 16), Prof Gerrit Olivier distorts SA’s trade relations with the world to justify his disdain for our country’s strong bonds of solidarity with the rest of the developing world.
He says SA’s main foreign trading partner is the EU. As a matter of fact, China is SA’s biggest trading partner. The EU is a bloc of 28 sovereign states, each with its independent foreign policy.
There is, however, no underestimating the significance of EU member states to SA’s economy. In the budget speech that Olivier quotes selectively, Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said: "The EU remains a strategic region for SA and a prominent dialogue partner from the global North."
Another major trading partner for SA is the US.
Therefore, the suggestion by Olivier that "the West is officially being kept at arm’s-length" could not be further from the truth.
Also divorced from reality is the perception that the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), of which SA is a proud member, is "a Cold War relic based on an anachronistic zero-sum view of world politics". The conditions that gave rise to the NAM still persist today.
SA is a developing country and will continue to align itself with fellow developing countries. This is not in opposition to developed countries.
Developing countries share common aspirations and frustrations on global political and financial matters.
Department of International Relations