SA gears up for BRICS Summit

Thursday, July 19, 2018

In the run up to the three-day BRICS Summit, which kicks off next Wednesday, South Africa has laid its cards on the table and set its targets.

During a roundtable discussion held at the Invest SA One Stop Shop in Johannesburg on Thursday, South Africa expressed its desired outcomes from chairing the 10th BRICS Summit.

“BRICS must deliver to the people. It must speak to our national priorities, our domestic interest of addressing unemployment, poverty and inequity in our societies,” said BRICS Ambassador Anil Sooklal.

To do this, Sooklal tabled peacekeeping, the establishment and launch of a BRICS Women’s Forum, a key focus on the 4th Industrial Revolution and the development of skills thereof as top of the country’s agenda.

“We want to put forward the idea of peacekeeping, which resonates very well with the centenary of Madiba, who was a widely and highly regarded symbol of global peace.  

“Secondly, we want to launch the BRICS Women’s Forum. This will be a great tribute to Mama Sisulu to launch the Women’s Forum during the year of our BRICS Presidency.

“Thirdly, it will be the 4th Industrial Revolution, in keeping up with the world that we live in and the new age of technology, which is revolutionising how we live and how we work,” said Sooklal.

The ambassador said these targets have been endorsed by the BRICS countries.

South Africa assumed the rotational chairmanship of BRICS, which is composed of the world’s leading emerging economies -- namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa -- from 1 January to 31 December 2018.

The 2018 summit will be a seminal milestone for BRICS cooperation, as it represents a decade of BRICS cooperation at the highest diplomatic level.

The summit will take place under the theme ‘BRICS in Africa: Collaboration for Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity in the 4th Industrial Revolution’.

With much of the criticism about the BRICS bloc being the skewed trade with SA on the back foot, levelling the playing field is set to dominate the lion’s share of talks at the summit.

“We have been working with unbalanced trade and our objective is to ensure that we get to complimentary trade. We are still exporting fundamentally primary goods - whether it be mineral or agricultural products, while the bulk, if not all imports from the BRICS member states, are value added products.

“As South Africa, we need to find some level of balance of the export basket,” said the Department of Trade and Industry’s Trade and Investment Deputy Director-General, Lerato Mataboge.

Ahead of the summit, there have been numerous events to pave the way for further key discussions. One of the key pre-summit events is the BRICS Business Council meeting, which is still to take place.

Brand SA Research General Manager Petrus De Kock said as custodians of the country’s identity and by extension that of BRICS, they will present a report at the BRICS Business Council meeting, which details the brand that is BRICS.

The report is said to focus on how BRICS has grown from an economic concept to an institution of global governance. –