Motsepe to head BRICS Business Council

27 March 2013

South African businessman Patrice Motsepe was named chairman of the newly formed BRICS Business Council at the fifth BRICS summit in Durban on Tuesday.

“A key measure to further increase intra-BRICS trade and investment is the establishment of the BRICS Business Council which we are launching at today’s session,” President Jacob Zuma told delegates gathered at the city’s International Convention Centre.

“The Council will serve as a platform to strengthen and promote economic, trade, business and investment ties between the business communities of the five BRICS countries.”

The aim of the council will be to provide technical support and advice, and facilitate the implementation of multi-lateral business projects among its five members, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. This will help promote the growth of the BRICS countries, and to challenge the dominance of developed countries.

The council will facilitate co-operation between the five countries in manufacturing, financial services, skills development, small and medium enterprises, and developing green-friendly economies. It will also aim to promote trade and industry among the countries.

One of its first tasks will be to establish sector working groups, to improve communication among business leaders.

The BRICS countries have each nominated five business leaders to make up the council. The four other South Africans who will serve on the body are Business Unity SA CEO Nomaxabiso Majokweni, Zungu Investment Company executive chairman Sandile Zungu, Sekunjalo Investments CEO Iqbal Surve, and Transnet CEO Brian Molefe.

The Black Management Forum (BMF) has welcomed Motsepe’s appointment, reports Sowetan. BMF MD Nicholas Maweni told the newspaper: “The council will give us an opportunity to have a business body that will highlight economic opportunities and issues facing each country. Each member country will provide market access to its BRICS partners.”

Benefits for South Africa

South Africa, which joined BRICS in 2010, has already seen benefits coming out of its membership of the group, with a reduction in its trade deficit with its BRICS partners.

In 2012, South Africa’s total trade with its BRICS partners stood at R294-billion, an increase of 11% on the 2011 figure of R264-billion.

Trade with Brazil grew to R20-billion in 2012, up from R18-billion in 2011. Trade with Russia grew 45% from 2012 to 2011, from R3-billion to R5-billion. And trade with India, South Africa’s sixth largest trading partner, grew to R67-billion in 2012, from R53-billion in 2011, a jump of 26%.

China is South Africa’s largest bilateral trading partner, with trade growing to R201-billion in 2012, up from R188.42-billion in 2011, growth of 7%.

“A number of important agreements will also be signed by ministers in the fields of arts and culture, agriculture, defence, education, energy, science and technology, transport and other legal frameworks,” Zuma said.

A Declaration of Strategic Partnership was signed with Russia on Tuesday, while several agreements were signed with China.

Progress has also been made on plans to establish a BRICS Development Bank, to cater specifically for the needs of the bloc, in particular reducing their dependence on the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Patrice Motsepe

Mining magnate Patrice Motsepe is worth is R2.9-billion, Forbes reported in March.

Fifty-one-year-old Motsepe was born in Soweto, and studied law. He joined the Bowman Gilfillan law firm in Johannesburg but soon branched out to become a businessman. He bought down-scale gold mine shafts in 1994, turning them around through prudent management. He called the company Future Mining.

In 1997 he established African Rainbow Minerals (ARM), which listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange in 2002. ARM merged with mining giant Harmony in 2003, and then took over Anglovaal Mining. It has interests in platinum, nickel, chrome, iron, manganese, coal, copper and gold. He is executive chairman of ARM.

Motsepe benefited from black economic empowerment deals in that companies were obliged to have a 29% black ownership, starting in late 2007. They helped him expand his mining company into a large mining group so that, when the global commodities market grew in 2005, he was able to take advantage of this demand.

In 2002 he was voted South Africa’s Business Leader of the Year by the CEOs of the country’s top 100 companies. In that year too he was the winner of the Ernst & Young Best Entrepreneur of the Year award.

Positions he holds include executive chairman of Harmony Gold Mining Company, chair of Naledi Mining, and deputy chairman of insurance giant Sanlam. He is also the owner of Premier Soccer League club Mamelodi Sundowns.

In January, Motsepe pledged to give half the income generated by his family assets to charity – becoming the first person outside the US to take the Giving Pledge started by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and billionaire Warren Buffett.