The BRICS summit has officially kicked off at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg with delegates streaming in at the centre from different regions. The meeting was attended by over 400 representatives from the business communities of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, as well as representatives from strategic partners such as the New Development Bank.
As the principal meeting of the business community within BRICS, the holding of an Annual Meeting, is one of the key annual deliverables of the BRICS Business Council.During its deliberations, the BRICS Business Council recognised the achievements and progress the Council had made over the past year and analysed the opportunities and challenges facing the emerging economies.
The five BRICS countries reinforced their ongoing commitment and agreed on the importance of ensuring greater economic, trade and investment ties amongst themselves.The three major focus areas identified for South Africa BRICS Business Council’s rotating chairmanship were: the role of BRICS in trade and investment facilitation amidst a changing global political economy, advancing BRICS-AFRICA partnership Ibn pursuit of industrialization and infrastructure
These core themes were advanced by the work programme which included the continued deliberation on the establishment of a BRICS New Development Bank.
A special panel session on Investment Opportunities in South Africa, was incorporated into the programme with contributions made by Minister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davies and panelists across the five countries, this was followed by the presidential session marking the official opening of the summit.
South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa cited one of the most important achievements of the first decade of BRICS as the establishment of the New Development Bank, which filled a critical gap in project funding.
“Since its formation, the bank has disbursed loans totaling $5.1 billion, with approvals amounting to $1.7 billion this year alone,” he said.
“As we enter the second decade of BRICS cooperation, we are determined to expand the Bank’s role in economic and social development.”
Ramaphosa said as a country that primarily exported commodities to its BRICS partners, South Africa supported a shift towards complementary and value-added trade.
“Linked to the trade agenda, we need to increase investment between BRICS countries, particularly in the productive sectors of our economy,” he said.
Echoing sentiments already expressed by several delegates, including Chinese President Xi Jinping and South African Trade and Industry minister Rob Davies, Ramaphosa said he was concerned by the rise in unilateral measures that were incompatible with World Trade Organization rules.
“These developments call for thorough discussion on the role of trade in promoting sustainable development and inclusive growth,” he said.