South African team set for BRICS summit

26 March 2012

President Jacob Zuma will lead a high-powered South African delegation to the fourth BRICS summit in New Delhi, India this week – the second summit South Africa will be attending after its ascension to the grouping of powerful emerging economies in 2011.

South Africa’s inclusion in the group at last year’s summit in Beijing put the country in the league of the world’s fastest-growing and potentially most influential group of nations: Brazil, Russia, India and China.

South Africa’s inclusion was a recognition of its strategic role in Africa and its ability to act as an interlocutor between Africa and the international community, rather than because of the size of its population or gross domestic product (GDP).

Focus on global issues

According to the Presidency, this year’s BRICS summit will focus on global governance matters, including the global economy and international peace and security, as well as sustainable development issues, including climate change.

South Africa “will take advantage of the BRICS summit to advance the African Agenda, seek support from BRICS partners for Nepad infrastructure development and industrialisation initiatives on the African continent, and advocate for reform of global governance institutions,” the Presidency said.

The summit takes place on Wednesday and Thursday.

BRICS Business Forum

Business Unity South Africa (Busa) has confirmed that it will be sending a delegation of over 50 companies to the second BRICS Business Forum, which runs in parallel with the summit.

Busa CEO Nomaxabiso Majokweni said the inaugural BRICS Business Forum in Hainan, China last year established a solid foundation for enhanced business ties among the fastest-growing economies in the world.

“South African business needs to leverage on the commercial opportunities offered by Brazil, Russia, India and China for the mutual benefit of the grouping, South Africa and the African continent,” Majokweni said in a statement.

Busa said Africa’s economic expansion of plus 5% over the past decade had been a direct product of its strategic ties to the emerging world, where the BRICS countries serve as the engine of growth.

Surge in trade with BRICS countries

South Africa’s trade with its fellow BRICS economies increased by 108% from 2007 to 2011, compared with a 12% growth in trade with the European Union over the same period.

“The comparison is not to diminish South Africa’s commercial relationship with Europe, but to emphasise where the next global growth is emanating,” Busa said.

“Business expects further positive outcomes at the upcoming BRICS summit, particularly in the areas of agriculture and food security, information communication technology, energy and finance.”

BRICS development bank on the agenda

The body said South African business was also open to discussion on the merits of a BRICS development bank, which could positively affect the financing of infrastructure as well as facilitate trade within the BRICS bloc.

Discussions on mechanisms for currency convertibility among the BRICS countries were also welcomed, but with a caution on pegging the rand to any other currency, Busa said.

South African business has already made inroads into BRICS markets with a number of high-profile investments, including Sasol’s coal-to-liquids plants in China and India, SABMiller’s investments in the Chinese beverage sector, and Naspers’ investment in the Russian ICT sector.

Source: BuaNews, with additional reporting by SAinfo