26 March 2012
The fourth annual summit of the BRICS grouping of powerful emerging economies takes place in New Delhi, India this week.
President Jacob Zuma will lead a high-powered delegation of South African government ministers and business leaders to the event, which will see the presidents and prime ministers of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa discussion issues ranging from the state of the world economy to the need to adapt to global climate change.
In parallel discussions, business leaders from the five countries will tackle a range of issues, including improving banking services to support intra-BRICS trade and investment, increasing cooperation on renewable energy and technological innovation, and achieving food security and through sharing scientific research and technology transfer.
Rising stature of emerging nations
Commenting the increasing stature of the summit, Brand South Africa CEO Miller Matola said the relative decline of the West’s traditional political and economic power had coincided with the rising global stature of emerging nations.
“The BRICS grouping is the most concrete and rapidly evolving example of this phenomenon,” Matola said in a statement on Monday. “In just four years, the formal agenda for cooperation and consultation has expanded dramatically to span politics, trade and business, science, academic and cultural interactions.”
Matola said the BRICS countries would not agree on everything, being competitors in a number of areas, but had adopted many common positions – the most recent being at the G20 meeting in Mexico in February, when the BRICS finance ministers agreed that the presidency of the World Bank should be open to all candidates and not restricted to American candidates.
US President Barack Obama’s nomination on Friday of Jim Yong Kim, a Korean-born doctor and international public health expert, “suggests these views are increasingly gaining traction,” Matola said.
“Likewise, South Africa has found resonance within the BRICS grouping for its calls for the reform of global governance systems such as the UN system, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to make them more responsive to the needs of the developing world and Africa.”
‘Enormous opportunities for trade and investment’
Closer cooperation between the BRICS nations also promises enormous opportunities for trade and investment within and through all five member countries.
Last year in South Africa, seven BRICS securities exchanges announced plans to cross-list each others’ indices and to jointly develop new products by June 2012. The seven exchanges represent a combined listed market capitalisation of more than US$9-trillion and 9 481 listed companies.
Matola said the BRICS summit gave South Africa an invaluable opportunity to promote not just the country but also the extraordinary opportunities on the African continent, which the IMF estimates will be home to seven of the 10 fastest growing economies between 2010 and 2015.
Actively driving African integration
“We believe South Africa is an integral part of Africa and works to increase its stability, unity, prosperity and international influence,” Matola said.
“We are actively driving Africa’s regional integration efforts, including developing continental north-south rail and road links, expanding ports and energy capacity and skills.
“Simultaneously 26 African countries agreed to create a single free trade area by mid-2014, covering the Southern, Eastern and Central Africa. The $1-trillion free trade area will effectively expand South Africa’s market from 50-million to 600-million – placing us in a similar category in terms of market size as our BRICS partners.”
The fifth BRICS summit will be held in South Africa in March-April 2013.