Johannesburg: South Africa’s BRICS membership remains crucial for the country’s economic development and that of the continent, International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said on Tuesday.
She defended South Africa’s decision to join the economic bloc in 2010.
“When SA joined BRICS it was an affirmation of what South Africa had achieved and our objectives to build a better country and continent,” she said at the New Age/SABC business briefing in Johannesburg.
BRICS is the group of fast-growing developing economies that consist of Brazil, India, Russia, China and South Africa. It is fast becoming an influential voice in world markets previously dominated by the west.
“We joined BRICS with three objectives – to outline national interests, promote regional interests and partner with key economies of the south…we would like to assure the analysts that whatever we do our diplomacy and our BRICS membership remains linked to our national interests and that of the continent,” Nkoana-Mashabane said.
With 43% of global population, the bloc had emerged as a powerful economic grouping and this has given rise to the idea of launching BRICS own development bank.
“The first BRICS summit to take place in South Africa next year should give an indication of the formation of our own BRICS development bank which will serve as a catalyst for development in our countries”.
The bank is expected to fund infrastructure and act as an alternate lender to the World Bank and other finance bodies. Experts have said the bank would be crucial in closing the BRICS infrastructure development gap. Also the timing couldn’t be better for SA as it has pinned its hopes for faster growth on a huge infrastructure plan announced by government this year.
The Trade and Industry Department revealed recently that bilateral trade between South Africa and its BRICS (partners grew substantially last year by almost 30%. Trade between South Africa and China last year grew by 32%, trade with India by 25%, and trade with Brazil by 20%.
Bilateral trade between South Africa and Russia also recovered in 2011, after a decline of 44% in 2010, but is still below the R4.2-billion in bilateral trade recorded between the two countries in 2008.
BRICS countries accounted for approximately 11% of global annual foreign direct investment flows in 2012 (US$465 billion) and 17% of world trade.
Their combined nominal GDP was estimated at US$13.7 trillion and between 20% and 25% of global GDP, as well as combined foreign reserves estimated at US$4 trillion.
Nkoana-Mashabane said: “We have to take them on board, work with them in order to realise the measurable benefits of this partnership”.