In the 1970s, Madagascar's foreign policy shifted dramatically in favor of closer economic ties with China and the former Soviet Union, and in the 1980s against South Africa and its policy of apartheid. One result of this history was Madagascar's withdrawal from the Franc Zone and the Francophone Common African and Malagasy Organization (OCAM). Historically, Madagascar also has supported the non-aligned movement and African liberation movements. Relations with South Africa have improved since 1994, and Madagascar is considering joining the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC). Madagascar is a member of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).
Ravalomanana intends to maintain good foreign relations with France as well as strengthen ties with the United States, China and other African countries. France, Madagascar's largest trading partner, promised US $150 million in foreign aid, with the United States contributing another US $100 million. At his address to the United Nations (UN) on 13 September 2002, Ravalomanana thanked the UN for its role in resolving Madagascar's crisis and reassured the international community of his intentions to abide by the rule of law, to make primary education a priority, and to respect the environment. Ravalomanana's commitment to root out corruption by giving government ministers a ten-fold wage increase was welcomed by the World Bank. With the prospect of corruption under control, foreign capital is likely to pour into the country from Asia and the West.
Relations with the African Union (AU) were strained over the refusal of the old guard within the former Organization of African Unity (OAU) to recognize Ravalomanana's government. After suspending Madagascar from the OAU, the Ravalomanana government was barred from the AU at its inauguration in July 2002. With many of Didier Ratsiraka's friends still in power and holding influential positions in the AU, the transfer of power from Didier Ratsiraka to Marc Ravalomanana was declared unconstitutional. Ironically, the AU was the only African-led organization to refuse to recognize Ravalomanana as president. The situation was resolved when President Ravalomanana was invited to the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg in September 2002 where he met with African heads of state and with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Ravalomanana supports the objectives of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), which under AU leadership, provides donors with a framework for development and commitments by African leaders to good governance in exchange for foreign aid.