South Africa will host the fifth BRICS Summit at the Durban International Convention Centre in March 2013. This will complete the first cycle of BRICS summits. BRICS summits are convened to seek common ground on areas of importance for these major economies. It represents spheres of political and entrepreneurial coordination, in which member countries have identified several business opportunities, economic complementarities and areas of cooperation.
BRICS is an acronym for the powerful grouping of the world’s leading emerging economies, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The BRICS mechanism aims to achieve peace, security, development and cooperation. It also seeks to contribute significantly to the development of humanity and establish a more equitable and fair world. The first BRIC Summit took place in Yekateringburg, Russia, where the elected leaders of the four countries formally declared the membership of the BRIC economic bloc. South Africa joined the bloc in 2010, resulting in BRICS.
Being part of this bloc is in line with South Africa’s foreign policy objective of strengthening South-South relations. The present context of international relations and cooperation between Asian, African and Latin American countries – collectively known as countries of the South – remains critical, and has become more important than ever before. South Africa’s membership is premised on its global and regional/continental role as well as its domestic achievements in the “proudly South African manner”. South Africa joined BRICS with three objectives in mind:
to advance its national interests as outlined in the President’s State of the Nation Address
to promote its regional integration programme and related continental infrastructure programmes
to partner with key players of the South on issues related to global governance and its reform.
South Africa’s membership of this body has expanded BRICS’ geographic and intercontinental reach, including its global representivity and inclusiveness. South Africa’s membership of BRICS will promote trade and investment, enhance industrialisation and promote job creation. There can be little doubt that South Africa will benefit and will continue to benefit from being a member of BRICS.
The opportunities presented in hosting the fifth BRICS Summit are considerable.
South Africa is on a firm footing to play its part in global affairs for a better South Africa, Africa and the world.
South Africa’s national agenda is aimed at achieving inclusive economic growth for its people as well as the people of the continent. This objective is strongly complemented by the exponential and accelerator growth potential, which BRICS engagement has delivered to the country and its neighbours.
South Africa will utilise its chairpersonship of BRICS in 2013 to vigorously pursue the potential for growing trade and investment, as well as intra-African trade and investment.
South Africa’s membership of BRICS will promote trade and investment, enhance industrialisation and promote job creation.
BRICS economies are the new engines of global growth.
The fast-growing emerging economies of BRICS have a vital role to address the global economic crisis, thus equalling their status with traditional powers. In the midst of the current global economic crisis, many countries in the world are looking to BRICS member states for a way out.
BRICS has the capacity and the political will to engage with the global community and contribute in a meaningful manner to achieve global well-being, stability and growth. BRICS countries coordinate their positions and actions in international organisations.
BRICS countries have individually emerged to challenge traditional economic powerhouses. China has recently been ranked as the second-biggest economy in the world, overtaking many economies.
BRICS has the collective influence to push for the restructuring of the global governance mechanisms to ensure a fairer world.
BRICS seeks to advance the restructuring of the global political, economic and financial architecture into one that is more equitable and balanced and rests on the important pillar of multilateralism.
BRICS believes that the international community should work together to strengthen cooperation for common development.
The grouping calls for further international financial regulatory oversight and reform, strengthening policy coordination and financial regulation and supervision cooperation, and promoting the sound development of global financial markets and banking systems.
All BRICS countries are currently serving on the UNSC as permanent (China and the Russian Federation) or non-permanent members (Brazil, India and South Africa) and share the objective of pushing for the reform of the UN, especially the UNSC, with a view to making it more effective, efficient and representative, so that it can deal with today’s global challenges more successfully.
BRICS has a fully fledged global format, which makes it better equipped to represent the developing world and constitutes a stronger force to counter international forums largely dominated by the developed world.
BRICS offers business many considerations, which can deliver prosperity and progress to the people of South Africa and the continent.
President Jacob Zuma urged in his State of the Nation Address that the triple challenge of poverty, unemployment and inequality required single-minded attention. The New Growth Path is geared at achieving inclusive growth and creating jobs. Six jobs drivers were identified to help the country achieve the much-needed growth leading to jobs. These are infrastructure development, agriculture, mining and beneficiation, manufacturing, the green economy and tourism.
South Africa strives for enhanced, inclusive economic growth that will lead to the creation of decent and sustainable jobs, advance the fight against poverty and accelerate the countries’ economic transformation.
Regionally, South Africa provides direct access to the rest of the continent and is situated between the East, the Americas, Europe and the Middle East. South Africa has many geostrategic and related structural advantages, making it an excellent investment destination and ideal “gateway” partner in the African growth story.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Regional Infrastructure Master Plan (RIMP), which could involve cross-border projects with a combined investment value of up to US$500billion, wasapproved at the SADC Summit held in Maputo, Mozambique, in August 2012.
As South Africa is one of the leading investors among developing countries on the continent, South African companies can take advantage of this unique position, through partnering with BRICS companies to explore commercial opportunities in Africa.
BRICS leaders have expressed support for infrastructure development in Africa and its industrialisation within the framework of New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).
South Africa’s invitation to join BRICS recognises the country’s contribution to shaping the socio-economic regeneration of Africa, as well as the country’s active involvement in peace, security and reconstruction efforts on the continent.
The BRICS countries constitute the largest trading partners of Africa and the largest new (not total) investors. The BRICS investment portfolio in Africa is encouraging and promising.
Over the past decade, it has seen a seismic acceleration of commercial and strategic engagements between BRICS and Africa. BRICS has nourished Africa’s economic emergence and elevated the continent’s contemporary global relevance.
At the New Delhi Summit, the leaders reiterated the highest importance attached to economic growth that supports development and stability in Africa, as many of these countries have not yet realised their full economic potential. The leaders undertook to take their cooperation forward to support Africa’s efforts to accelerate the diversification and modernisation of its economies, through infrastructure development, knowledge exchange and support for increased access to technology, enhanced capacity-building and investment in human capital, including within the framework of NEPAD.
A BRICS development bank will mobilise resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging economies and developing countries.
A development bank will supplement existing efforts of multilateral and regional financial institutions for global growth and development.
Such a new development bank could complement existing institutions and address gaps and challenges in critical sectors.
South Africa strongly supports this initiative and other African leaders have also indicated their keen interest.