Third BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) Leaders’ Summit

President Jacob Zuma will for the first time participate in the third BRICS Leaders’ Summit from 14 to 15 April 2011 in Beijing, China.

South Africa joined the important bloc of emerging economies in December 2010, in line with the country’s foreign policy to strengthen South-South relations. Discussions will centre on strengthening economic and trade cooperation among BRICS members.

The changing global environment has seen a greater political and economic role for the BRICS and other emerging powers. By 2020, the BRICS countries are expected to contribute nearly half of all global gross domestic product (GDP) growth.

  • BRIC is a powerful bloc of emerging economies which recorded a combined GDP  of R18 trillion late in December 2010. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), BRIC will account for 61% of global growth in three years’ time.
  • The 2010-2011 Global Competitiveness Report of the World Economic Forum ranks South Africa favourably in relation to the other BRICS countries. The 2010 United Nations (UN) Confrence on Trade and Development World Investment Report puts South Africa in the top 20 of priority economies for foreign direct investment in the world.
  • The structure of BRICS trade (i.e. value-added exports supporting the National Industrial Policy Framework and the Industrial Policy Action Plan is more important than nominal volumes of trade.
  • South Africa and other BRICS member states will continue existing collaboration in various international organisations and formations such as the UN, the Group of 20 (G20) and the IBSA (India, Brazil, South Africa) Dialogue Forum. South Africa also views the Non-Aligned Movement and the Group 77  as important for South-South interaction, especially within the framework of the UN.
  • South Africa can benefit from the concrete projects of BRICS in areas such as agriculture, science, statistics, development finance institutions, security and justice. BRIC agriculture ministers have agreed to cooperate in agricultural technology development and exchange.

South Africa remains committed to the consolidation of the African Agenda and will use its BRICS membership to increase strategic cooperation among emerging market economies of the South in support of this agenda.

  • South Africa is dedicated to African unity and integration within the framework of the Constitutive Act of the African Union (AU). This includes the strengthening of continental institutions, which are critical in responding to the challenges of poverty, underdevelopment, peace, security and stability on the continent.
  • South Africa will ensure that the rest of the African continent is advantaged by its BRICS membership and continues to benefit from the BRICS countries in the priority areas identified by the AU such as energy, information and communications technology, rail and road infrastructure, agriculture and food security.
  • South Africa took up its two-year non-permanent seat to the UN Peace and Security Council (UNSC) from January 2011 and will continue to make a significant contribution to deepening the relationship and cooperation between the UNSC and the AU.
  • All BRICS countries will serve on the UNSC in 2011 as permanent (China and  the Russian Federation) or non-permanent members (Brazil, India and South Africa), which augurs positively for enhanced cooperation efforts. The fact that three of the Group Four (G4) nations – Germany, India and Brazil – are also on the council at the same time means there will be some aggressive proposals supporting the expansion of the UNSC with both permanent and non-permanent seats this year.
  • Africa’s trade with BRIC grew from 4,6% of its total external trade in 1993 to just more than 19% in 2009, which produced a US$-20,2 billion (R147-billion) trade surplus for Africa.

As a BRICS member, South Africa’s advocacy to prioritise the role of emerging economies will be strengthened in the international developmental agenda.

  • South Africa’s BRICS membership will enhance its reputation as one of the leading campaigners for the reform of multilateral institutions, including the World Trade Organization, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the UNSC.
  • At its first Summit in Russia in 2009, BRIC heads of state called for emerging economies to have a greater voice in international financial institutions and for a more diversified global monetary system.
  • As part of the G20 and the Group of 5 (G5 – the five emerging nations), South Africa will use its BRICS membership to push for a developmental position on multilateral forums, including on contentious issues such as climate change and agricultural trade. South Africa is the only Africa nation represented in the G20.
  • The upcoming UN Conference on Climate Change, hosted by Durban, will strive towards a common developmental position to reduce gas emissions. BRICS members have all signed the Kyoto Protocol, a blueprint to reduce carbon emissions.
  • South Africa is seized with ensuring a legally binding climate-change agreement that will govern the world’s response to the increasingly visible effects of climate change and reiterates that any final agreement must support the developmental agenda of the South.

South Africa’s diversified foreign policy objectives and interests allow for both groupings (IBSA and BRICS) to co-exist as they are highly complementary.

  • South Africa’s BRICS membership and future engagements will build on existing bilateral relations and IBSA.
  • South Africa will leverage both formations to promote the African Agenda and create new trade opportunities for value-added exports and investment. IBSA aims to increase trade volumes between the three countries to US$ 25 billion by 2015.
  • South Africa believes that IBSA remains extremely relevant for political dialogue and South-South relations. South Africa will host the fifth IBSA Summit this year aimed at addressing global issues of common interest; advance national priorities through the sharing of best experiences; and further facilitate and monitor the implementation of IBSA decisions, agreements and action plans.
  • Any demise of IBSA would negatively affect attempts at the harmonisation in preferential trade agreements between the Southern African Customs Union (Sacu), the Southern Common Market (Mercosur) and the Latin American Trade bloc to culminate into an India-Mercosur and Sacu Trilateral trade arrangement.

Courtesy of  The South African Government