14 April 2011
South African business must be “aggressive” in taking on new opportunities in Brazil, Russia, India and China through South Africa’s new membership of the BRICS grouping, says President Jacob Zuma.
Addressing about 100 South African delegates from business and government at an outdoor evening cocktail function at the Hilton Sanya Resort and Spa in China on Wednesday, Zuma encouraged businessmen to offer the South African government feedback on what hurdles companies faced so that the government could help to make it easier to do business with the other BRICS nations.
Business delegates included mining magnate Patrice Motsepe, telecommunications entrepreneur Robert Gumede and the outgoing chief executive of Business Unity South Africa (Busa), Jerry Vilakazi.
“Part of our job is to create an enabling environment for businesses,” said Zuma, who celebrated his 69th birthday on Wednesday. “The question I think that must come to all of us, is what we do as business to take advantage of this participation of South Africa in BRICS.
“So what we need is for us to be armed with such facts, with the experience of businesses – what has been your experience as businesses,” said Zuma.
Zuma said South Africa’s invitation by China to become a member of BRICS was a “one of the most important achievements” in South Africa’s recent history.
However, he said global institutions still needed to change because many of those countries dominating world bodies were no longer holding power in the world.
“The old economies are no longer developing like they used to, if they are developing it’s very minimal.
“The emerging economies are developing very fast and they are big in size. In fact, the last financial crisis was stopped in the main by the big economies, otherwise we would still be in recession,” Zuma said.
He said, however, that in recent history economic growth had all too often bypassed Africa, but today the continent was growing faster than ever before.
“The coming into BRICS of South Africa represents an important element that Africa is part of the changing world, is part of the alternative voice, therefore it is important that we are a country that represents our continent,” said Zuma, adding that being part of BRICS meant South Africa was part of the changing world.
Zuma said there were definite opportunities for South African businesses.
“I think it going to be the question of how we conduct ourselves. Firstly do we understand the importance of being part of the BRICS. Are there benefits? Absolutely, huge,” said Zuma, who added that South Africa could also learn a lot from the industrious work ethic of Asian countries.