SA’s membership of BRICS influences economic breaks

South Africa’s membership of BRICS has contributed to further leveraging economic opportunities for the country’s own development agenda as well as that of the continent.

“The world views South Africa as a conduit into the African market and that South Africa, as well as the African continent, is now emerging as one of the fastest growing markets with the potential of future growth due to the demographic basis underpinning this growth and the new consumer market that is emerging,” said Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ebrahim Ebrahim, on Wednesday.

“It is in this context that we should understand the global socio-economic and political significance of BRICS. The exponential growth potential of BRICS over the years to come will also impact considerably on the future of emerging markets and developing economies – especially in the case of Africa.

“We have referred in various addresses to an IMF study that indicated that the severity of the impact of the global financial crisis was weathered by low income countries through their economic interaction with BRICS,” he said during a public lecture held at the University of Johannesburg in Soweto Campus.

Titled, “Reflections on BRICS: Prospects for South Africa and Africa”, the lecture was an opportunity for Ebrahim to interact with the students to foster a better understanding of what South Africa’s membership of the Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa (BRICS) partnership means ahead of the 5th BRICS Summit, to be hosted by President Jacob Zuma on 27 March 2013 in Durban.

Speaking to students, Ebrahim stressed that BRICS was one of the most transparent inter-governmental groupings active in international relations today and urged them to study the summit declarations, which provide insight in the country’s core deliberations and shared views on global issues of mutual interest.

“BRICS member states share and ascribe to core values which were already pronounced in its initial ministerial statement issued in 2008, prior to the first BRIC Summit,” he said.

In the ministerial statement issued in 2008, the ministers emphasized the prospects of the BRIC dialogue based on mutual trust and respect, common interests, coincidence or similarity of approaches toward the pressing problems of global development.

The ministers agreed that building a more democratic international system founded on the rule of law and multilateral diplomacy was an imperative of at the time. They reaffirmed the commitment of the BRICS to work together and with other states in order to strengthen international security and stability, ensure equal opportunities for development to all countries.

The ministers also reiterated that today’s world order should be based on the rule of international law and the strengthening of multilateralism with the United Nations playing the central role. They reaffirmed the need for a comprehensive reform of the UN with a view to make it more efficient so that it can deal with the current global challenges more effectively.

“These underlying shared views have constituted the golden thread of BRICS deliberations and will continue to do so. They also provide insight into why South Africa was invited to join BRIC in 2010 and which BRICS Leaders again reaffirmed in their Delhi Declaration on 27 March 2012.

“The mobilisation of support for the African agenda is a key priority of South Africa’s foreign policy and President Zuma would like to ensure that our membership of BRICS also benefits the entire continent, and the 5th BRICS Summit will constitute another high-level opportunity to further support key priority areas of the African agenda,” Ebrahim said.

Outlining anticipated dividends for the growing partnership between BRICS and the African continent, Ebrahim highlighted that BRICS represent 40% of the global population, approximately one fifth of global gross domestic product (GDP), estimated at US$13.7 trillion, as well as combined foreign reserves estimated at US$4,4 trillion.

“Undoubtedly, BRICS accounted for approximately 11% of global annual foreign direct investment (FDI) flows in 2012 (US$465 billion) and 17% of world trade,” Ebrahim said. –