SA close to joining BRIC group

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Pretoria - South Africa is confident that it could become the newest member of BRIC, a powerful economic coalition of the four largest developing nations in the world - Brazil, Russia, India and China.

This is according to International Relations and Cooperation's Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane who was briefing the media following last week's state visit to China which formed part of government's worldwide tour to expand ties with fast-growing emerging economies.

"We think we have done our best to and we think we have made a positive impression on all the BRIC members. We believe they will take a favourable decision," the minister said on Thursday, adding that now all they could do was wait for a decision to be made.

South Africa is clamouring to become the fifth member of the BRIC economies. The country has held interactions with the Heads of State which have thus far shown interest in including South Africa.

The BRIC nations work to boost trade among themselves and South Africa is looking to expanded trade with the world, which will help it meet development needs, especially by improving infrastructure and livelihoods.

Regarding President Jacob Zuma's state visit to China and its benefit to the country, Nkoana-Mashabane labelled the visit a success.

Zuma visited China with 13 cabinet ministers and a 370-strong business delegation to strengthen ties between South Africa and what has become the world's second-largest economy, with a Gross Domestic Product worth R9.5 trillion in the second quarter.

The ties between the two countries received a further boost, thanks to several new deals struck during the visit.

A comprehensive strategic partnership agreement as well as eight Memoranda of Understanding aimed at further strengthening bilateral ties and to implement areas of co-operation were signed, said the minister.

The deals centred on infrastructure construction projects, such as roads, railways, ports, power generation, airports and housing.

The business delegation also signed more than a dozen agreements involving investments in railways, power transmission, construction, mining, insurance, telecoms and nuclear power, among others.

The comprehensive strategic partnership declaration, she said, will guide South Africa's overall interaction with China over the next 10 to 15 years.

The minister said a key element of the strategic partnership agreement partnership was growth and development, focusing on beneficiation and the adding of value to resources, infrastructure, market access and trade in the Southern African Development Community region and on the continent.

Both governments, will work closely "to map out action plans in various areas, so as to implement the consensus reached by the state leaders and benefit the people," said the minister.

The visit also saw the signing of the Beijing Declaration which was signed by the two Presidents. They expressed their desire to further strengthen and deepen exchanges and cooperation between the two nations in both political and regional affairs by establishing a comprehensive strategic partnership based on equality, mutual benefits and common development.

The visit has pushed the bilateral relations to an unprecedented level, Nkoana-Mashabane said.