South Africa to benefit from expansion of Brics – Brand SA

17th February 2023

By: Donna Slater

Features Deputy Editor and Chief Photographer


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Brand South Africa (SA) says that, as South Africa assumes chairship of the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (Brics) bloc of countries this year, it stands to benefit from a proposed enlargement of the bloc, enabling the country to extend its global influence and strengthen trade ties with a range of “powerful” emerging market economies.

Brics will continue pushing for equitable representation in international decision-making and supporting post-Covid-19 global economic recovery.

The Brics bloc is chaired, rotationally, by a sitting President of each member country in order of the Brics acronym, with India PM Narendra Modi having chaired in 2021, China President Xi Jinping in 2022 and President Cyril Ramaphosa taking the lead as of January 1 this year.

As Brics chairperson this year, Ramaphosa would oversee the expansion of the bloc should it welcome new members.

Jinping announced during the fourteenth Brics summit held virtually in late June 2022 that Iran and Argentina submitted applications to join the bloc.

These announcements were followed by media reports that Indonesia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Nigeria, Kazakhstan, Senegal and Thailand were also interested in joining Brics.

“From its inception in 2009, Brics has been vocal about the under-representation of developing and poor countries in the global financial system,” says Brand SA acting CEO Sithembile Ntombela.

She says Brics wants the system to be transformed to reflect the development interests of poor countries, many of which are in Africa.

“South Africa is considered as an entry point to Africa by many multinationals looking to do business on the continent and it also played a significant role in the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) that has created a market of 1.4-billion people with a continent-wide gross domestic product of $2.6-trillion,” says Ntombela.

The AfCFTA, which was officially launched in January last year, has removed import tariffs, and will progressively promote regional integration, develop new regional value chains, and stimulate industrial and infrastructure development across Africa.

At the fourteenth Brics Summit, member countries released a 75-point joint statement, known as the Beijing Declaration, which among other things, expressed support for AfCFTA.

In the declaration, Brics also committed to assisting Africa to accelerate industrialisation and infrastructure development, which are pre-conditions for driving trade and investment on the continent.

“Given that South Africa has the most industrialised economy in Africa with an advanced logistics infrastructure and a sophisticated financial system, the country is in an advantageous position to capitalise on trade and investment benefits presented by AfCFTA,” she says.

This could help boost key sectors such as manufacturing, agriculture, tourism, e-commerce, and the services industry in which South Africa has a competitive edge, adds Ntombela.

As a major food producer and exporter, she says South Africa is well positioned to ramp up its agricultural production to ease food shortages caused by the disruption of supply chains related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Many African countries are dependent on maize imports from Ukraine, which Ukraine is unable to deliver [owing] to the ongoing conflict. I am confident that South African farmers can close the gap left by the absence or shortage of Ukrainian maize imports,” claims Ntombela.

In this regard, she says, agriculture is one of the strengths of South Africa’s economy with the sector producing an array of agricultural exports ranging from subtropical fruits, sugar and citrus, to wine, vegetables, wool, mohair and meat.

“There is no doubt that the enlargement of Brics will benefit South Africa. The expansion comes at an opportune time when our country is implementing an economic recovery plan and structural reforms to make our economy globally competitive, reduce the cost of doing business, attract investment, and stimulate economic growth,” says Ntombela.

As Ramaphosa takes over the Brics chairpersonship, Ntombela urges all key stakeholders – including the private sector, government, labour and civil society – to collaborate to position South Africa to take advantage of opportunities that the Brics expansion will bring.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online



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