Gauteng Premier David Makhura has hailed the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (Brics) alignment as a force that could promote global inclusive economic growth and help develop Africa. He was delivering the keynote address at the recent Brics Business Council midterm meeting in Johannesburg.
“Brics is about the future of the global economy,” he affirmed. This included reshaping the global economy.
“The Brics countries together are huge,” he pointed out, noting that the Brics countries represented billions of the world’s population. “We can never underestimate what we can do together . . . There is huge opportunity if our businesses work together.” He added that trade between the Brics countries had grown steadily.
“For us in South Africa, Brics is also a platform for advocating for the whole of Africa,” he assured. He noted that South Africa could only benefit if Africa grew.
“Africa remains a continent of the future with its youthful population,” he observed. “There is no doubt the Brics economies can play a key role in catalysing Africa’s industrialisation and development.”
As for Gauteng, the province was the industrial and financial heart of both South Africa and Africa. “Gauteng occupies a special place in the economy of our country and the continent.” Consequently, it could play an important role in developing trade ties between Brics countries and Brics businesses. The province had already established subnational relationships with regions in China, India and Russia (the equivalent process with Brazil was delayed by the elections in that country last year).
“Business is done here [in Gauteng],” emphasised Makhura. “Our goal is to [also] grow business tourism, particularly from Brics countries, because that is where the potential lies.”
The council meeting was also addressed by the leaders and representatives of its various national branches, or chapters. Brics Business Council South Africa chapter chairperson Busi Mabuza affirmed that Brics offered its members “massive” trade opportunities, which must be exploited. “What brings us all here is, of course, our commitment to creating a shared and prosperous future,” she stressed. The Business Council was intended to strengthen business ties between the Brics countries and between businesses within the bloc. Hopefully, she noted, this would lead to the identification of trade bottlenecks and allow business to approach the various governments to remove these and facilitate trade.
She pointed out that the global trade landscape was changing, and that the global trends were not favourable for trade. South Africans considered themselves to be very fortunate that the country was one of the Brics nations.
Each business community in the different Brics countries could learn from the others, she averred. Each member country had unique strengths that could benefit the other countries as well.
Brazil chapter representative José Serrano emphasised that the council “has been a very important council for working with the governments of each of the countries we have met . . . Since its creation [in 2013], the council has never stopped meeting . . . which shows the strengthening of the council”.
“In terms of our business interactions, I believe we have made good progress in the last six years,” highlighted India chapter representative Naveen Kapur. “Today, we have nine working groups.” Some of these had matured and were now close to making major proposals, which would be presented to the five governments.
“Strengthening trade cooperation among Brics countries has become even more important,” he stated. This was because of protectionist trends around the world. The Brics business communities needed to lobby their governments to facilitate trade within the alignment.
“More and more companies are partici- pating in this great platform,” enthused China chapter representative Lu Yimin in his brief address. He, Mabuza, Serrano and Kapur all, in their addresses, stressed the developing relationship between the Business Council and the New Development Bank, popularly called the Brics Bank.
The purpose of the midterm meeting was to prepare for the plenary meeting of the Business Council in November, which would be held in São Paulo, Brazil. All the foreign delegation leaders praised their South African hosts for the way in which they had organised and hosted the meeting, which took place on April 3 and April 4.