BRICS leaders to pave a new growth path

Thursday, July 26, 2018

The leaders of the five major emerging national economies forming the BRICS grouping are expected to converge at Sandton, Johannesburg, this morning, for the second day of the 10th annual summit.

The summit will see the head of states, business leaders, civil society organisations and academics descend on the ICC under the theme: “BRICS in Africa: Collaboration for Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity in the Fourth Industrial Revolution”.

They will be joined by high-ranking officials from about nine African countries, the African Union, other emerging markets such as Ethiopia, Angola, Zambia, Namibia, Senegal, Gabon, Togo and Uganda who have been invited by the leaders as part of their BRICS outreach programme.

Led by President Cyril Ramaphosa as the current chair of the group, the summit kicked off with a business forum on Wednesday. President Ramaphosa was joined by his Chinese counterpart President Xi Jinping and about 1200 government officials and business people.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to land this morning to join the session while India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Michel Temer touched down at Waterkloof Airport on Wednesday afternoon.  

Second day of summit

According to the official programme, the second day of the summit will see the tabling of the report by the Chair of the BRICS Business Council, a report by the President of the New Development Bank.

The five-member countries are expected to bring to the table several issues they might want to see adopted by this Johannesburg summit.

Working Group on Peacekeeping, Vaccine Research Centre

Pretoria has also indicated that it wants to see the establishment of a Working Group on Peacekeeping and the establishment of a Vaccine Research Centre for Collaboration with BRICS vaccine innovation and development partners. This is intended to be a physical research centre focused on research and development and vaccine innovation.

BRICS Gender and Women’s Forum

It also wants to see the establishment of a BRICS Gender and Women’s Forum – intended as a dedicated track for gender and women’s issues, given the economic benefit to be derived from the socio-economic empowerment of women, particularly in developing countries.

Inclusive growth, 4th Industrial Revolution

Another area Pretoria has put to the table is leveraging the strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership towards the pursuit of inclusive growth and advancing the 4th Industrial Revolution – this is intended to foster discussions to address opportunities provided by the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

In addition to these, it wants the leaders to adopt the establishment of a BRICS Tourism Track of Cooperation.

Pretoria believes that these proposals will go a long way in consolidating cooperation amongst the BRICS partners as they enter the second decade of BRICS.

Global trade war

But it is the threat of a worsening global trade war which is likely to top the agenda of the summit this morning.

The BRICS grouping is expected to table their views on various issues of cooperation, the political and security environment globally, the reforms of the United Nations and universal multilateral organisation and the advancing of global development and promoting and protecting of human rights.

With the group celebrating a decade of BRICS cooperation- the leaders will be looking at how they will grow the cooperation going forward.

New cooperation areas

In this regard, the leaders will weigh in on new measures such as intra-BRICS, new cooperation areas and the possibility of establishing a BRICS credit rating company in an effort to break the dominance of the big three developed-nation firm among others.

Over the past 10 years, the BRICS countries have already carried out substantial cooperation in a number of areas, laying a firm foundation for the bloc to play a larger role on the world stage, including in the global efforts to tackle climate change and promote sustainable development.

The New Development Bank, the bloc's financial arm, offers a glimpse. Since its launch in July 2015, the bank has approved 21 projects worth $5.1 billion.

The five-member states, already account for about a fifth of the world’s economic output and 40% of its population.

Details of the leader's deliberations will culminate in the adoption of the "Johannesburg Declaration" which will include joint commitments for the year ahead.

First day of summit

The first day of the summit, which saw the sitting of the BRICS Business Forum, was addressed by both Presidents Ramaphosa and Xi.

Inclusive growth, the trade wars, new global growth drivers, the international landscape and the global governance system dominated the first day of the summit.

President Ramaphosa used his address to reflect on the progress of the BRICS union in a number of co-operation areas, saying it is a success in the global developmental agenda.

However with the multilateral trading system facing unprecedented challenges, the President expressed his concerns on the rise in unilateral measures that are incompatible with World Trade Organization rules.

“We are worried about the impact of these measures, especially in developing countries. These developments call for a thorough discussion on the role of trade in promoting sustainable development and inclusive growth,” said President Ramaphosa.

Speaking through an interpreter, President Xi also noted that the world was moving toward multi-polarity and greater economic globalization. He said this trend is a blow to multilateralism and the multilateral trading regime.

In this light, he called on the BRICS countries to unite more than before.

Minister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davies, who also addressed the forum, highlighted the progress made by BRICS. However, he called for increased investment-led trade among one another.

This investment-led trade approach is hoped to stimulate economic development by promoting outward investment, trade, industrialisation, added value chains and infrastructure development. -