The BRICS organisation was not a close shop of existing members and should be viewed as a pivotsal force in the development of the African continent and the broader Emerging Economies and Developing Countries (EMDC), said South African Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies.
He was speaking at the Expert Group Meeting at Jakarta in Indonesia. The theme of the meeting was ‘Exploring Africa: Mainstreaming Indonesia’s Economic Diplomacy in Non-Traditional Market’ and Minister Davies was speaking about ‘South African and BRICS effects to Indonesia’.
Davies told the meeting that BRICS is an important voice for emerging economies and developing countries in the world economy. He said that while South Africa’s economic links with traditional trading partners remain important, the country’s prospects for growth and development will depend increasingly on diversifying and strengthening our economic links with these dynamic economies of the South (including Indonesia) and with Africa.
‘The expansion of South Africa’s trade and direct investment with the countries of the South, notably the BRIC countries, continues apace, with China and India at the forefront. Aggravated by the Eurozone crisis and demand contraction in Europe, the share of the EU in South Africa’s total trade has declined from 36% in 2005 to 26.5% in 2011. By contrast, the share of the BRIC countries in South Africa’s total trade has increased from 10% in 2005 to 18.6% in 2011’
He mentioned that his country’s economic engagement in BRICS is being built on three pillars.
‘First, the BRICS countries have a shared interest in pursuing the reform of multilateral institutions for global governance to give greater voice to developing countries in these institutions and, thereby, enhance the legitimacy of the institutions themselves. In particular, we have strengthened coordination in the World Trade Organisation’s Doha Round to defend and champion a development outcome as well as in forums such as the G20 where trade and investment issues arise’ said Davies.
According to him, the second pillar involves building intra-BRICS cooperation.
‘On matters relating to trade and investment, we have highlighted the importance of working to build our industrial base, enhance value-added exports, and promote technology-sharing, small business development and trade and investment promotion’ added Minister Davies.
Davies highlighted that South Africa has a direct interest in extending BRICS cooperation to support Africa’s economic development agenda.
‘The BRICS countries can contribute to Africa’s development by increasing financial aid to build infrastructure and industrial capacity, and increasing imports of value-added manufactured products from the continent. The abundant natural resources of Africa, the growing consumer power of Africa’s emerging middle class, and high growth rates offer an opportunity to build a more sustainable and mutually beneficial relationship with Africa in the next decades’, emphasised Davies.
Minister Davies concluded by saying that South African government is of the view that the BRICS led Development Bank that is being discussed should mobilise resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other Emerging Economies and Developing Countries (EMDC).