Insight: BRICS 2018
SA reaps advantages of Brics membership
As the 10th Brics summit meeting approaches, the leaders of two member states give their viewers on the benefits that Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa have gained by uniting in one bloc
As South Africa prepares to host the 10th Brics summit at the end of July it would be appropriate to reflect on the benefits and opportunities our membership of this formation has yielded for the country since joining in 2011.
The Brics grouping draws together like-minded countries not through any formal agreement but out of a mutual desire to collaborate on a multilateral level in pursuit of shared goals and objectives.
Since its formation in 2006, Brics continues to grow in terms of both credibility and impact; not just for developing countries and the global south as a whole, but resonating around the globe.
As we mark this important milestone of the 10th summit, South Africa has selected for its chairmanship the theme: "Brics in Africa: Collaboration for Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity in the 4th Industrial Revolution."We will be reflecting on past achievements, exchanging views on the next phase of Brics engagement, and charting the course for future cooperation. The programme will infuse Brics with new initiatives and approaches that will complement and further strengthen already established traditions.
In line with our commitment to south-south cooperation, South Africa's membership of Brics is an important pillar of our foreign policy. Our participation has been premised on achieving goals that speak to national, regional/continental and international objectives. On all three we work to promote cooperation that produces tangible benefits for our people.
Brics continues to reinforce our bilateral relations with our partners, who are all key drivers of global economic development. As a result, we have seen an incremental but notable rise in foreign direct investment, and in trade and tourism between South Africa and our counterparts.
Also at a foreign policy level, South Africa has prioritised advancing the African agenda in Brics. Since its establishment, Brics has in its declarations articulated support for the attainment of peace, security and development in Africa, including express support for Nepad and Agenda 2063 of the AU.
Brics has continuously expressed support for Africa's industrialisation and infrastructure development path, and when we last chaired Brics, in 2013, we launched the Brics Outreach Dialogue that brought together select African leaders to meet Brics leaders. We will continue this tradition in 2018.At a national level, the benefit of our Brics membership must be measured in line with the mandate set out in the National Development Plan, the main objective of which is to promote inclusive growth and development and to address the triple scourge of poverty, unemployment and inequality.
Central to achieving the objectives of the NDP is intra-Brics cooperation in the areas of trade, investment, tourism, capacity building, skills and technology transfers, and the enhancing of people-to-people cooperation.
Brics countries play an important role in, amongst other things, facilitating capacity development, skills transfer and training opportunities for South Africa.
Our Brics membership has also fostered meaningful sociocultural interlinkages between our people. People-to-people relations among our countries have gained momentum through such platforms as the Brics Friendship Cities and Local Governments Cooperation Forum, the Brics Film Collaboration Plan for the years 2017 to 2021, the Brics Trade Union Forum Declaration, and cooperation in the area of sport.
Most important of all of the above-mentioned areas, our membership of Brics has yielded the most benefits in terms of business and the economy, catalysed principally through the Brics Business Council and the cooperation of our multilateral development banks through the Inter-bank Cooperation Mechanism.
South Africa can be proud that our membership of Brics has enabled us to develop our own multilateral institutions, which seek not to challenge but to complement (and provide alternatives to) the existing international institutions. The Contingent Reserve Arrangement and the New Development Bank, and its Africa Regional Centre located in Johannesburg are examples of this.That Brics has created its own credible institutions in such a short period of time demonstrates the shared interest of the collective to driving the development of domestic economies.
The New Development Bank has signed partnership agreements with a number of multilateral development banks, regional and national development banks, and private-sector banks; it has also worked on accelerating the project cycle and raising capital in local currencies in order to overcome traditional impediments to infrastructure development.
It goes without saying that as Africa accelerates its socioeconomic transformation through, amongst others, the implementation of Agenda 2063 and the Continental Free Trade Area, alternative sources of funding will be required. To this end, the African Regional Centre, launched in 2017, will play a key role. It will be instrumental in providing financial and project-preparation support for infrastructure and sustainable development projects.
Brics is committed to securing an equitable and representative global political and financial architecture. To this end, we try and develop a collective voice on key issues such as UN reform and balanced and fair trade.
The grouping is committed to protecting multilateralism, international law and reinforcing the place of the United Nations in global affairs. It is through this kind of collaboration as equals that we believe we can attain a better life for all humankind.