18 April 2011
South Africa’s success as the new member of BRICS will be determined by how Pretoria relates to the rest of Africa and how it uses its membership of the group to address critical issues facing the continent, says Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies.
“I think that will be our major area that we will be judged on,” Davies said on Sunday on his return from third meeting of the leaders of the grouping of influential developing countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – held in Sanya, China.
“The issues are vast, and we need to ensure that we take the rest of Africa with us, because the way we relate to the rest of the continent will be very important to make our participation in BRICS a success,” Davies said.
As the only African country in BRICS, South Africa was expected to push for Africa’s integration in trade and policies with the other BRICS members, Davies said.
Building a domestic market that cut across Africa would be crucial, he said, if South Africa was to hold its own among four powerful emerging economies with a combined population of more than three billion.
South Africa should also use its BRICS membership to craft a more vigorous trade and investment programme to ensure that its voice and that of the continent was heard in broader international platforms such as the G20 and the UN Security Council.
The three-day BRICS meeting, which ended on Friday, called on the speedy achievement of the targets for the reform of the International Monetary Fund agreed to at the recent G20 summit, and reiterated that the governing structure of the international financing institution should reflect the changes in the world economy.
In what could lead to a drastic shift in trade cooperation between the BRICS group, Davies said the five countries also discussed the possibility of using their own currencies to trade with each other.
This formed part of a wide consultation meeting attended by the BRICS trade ministers that called for strong, open and rule-based multilateral trading systems among their countries.
The meeting also denounced the “excessive” volatility in commodity prices, particularly those for food and energy, as posing a new risk for the ongoing recovery of the world market.
“We support the international community in strengthening cooperation to ensure stability and strong development of physical markets,” Davies said. “The international community should work together to increase production capacity and strengthen producer-consumer dialogue to balance supply and demand.”
The BRICS countries, which together account for about 20 percent of global GDP, are all part of the G20 grouping of the 20 major economies in the world, and are all currently members of the UN Security Council.
The five countries see this as an opportunity to work closely together on issues relating to global peace and security.
“We are deeply concerned with turbulence in the Middle East, the North African and West African regions, and sincerely wish that the countries affected achieve peace, stability and progress,” the group said in a declaration at the end of the meeting. We share the principle that any use of force should be avoided.”