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By Brian Sokutu

Senior Print Journalist

Brics cannot be wished away by rich Western countries

Putin aside, we are dealing with a group that is poised to make a huge impact on the global economic stage.

The upcoming summit of Brics (emerging market economies Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) is being dominated by whether Russian President Vladimir Putin will be able to attend the watershed SA-hosted gathering – and no less than 15 foreign ministers meet today in Cape Town to reflect on regional and global developments.

Since its birth, the fledgling Brics has never endured a massive challenge and dislike expressed by Western countries – looking at the grouping as an alternative to such known intergovernmental political forums like the G7 (group of seven) very rich nations.

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Besides five foreign ministers – Dr Naledi Pandor (South Africa), Mauro Vieira (Brazil), Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov (Russia), Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar (India) and Ma Zhaoxu (vice-foreign minister of China, standing in for the minister, Qin Gang) – Pandor, who will chair proceedings, has invited 15 foreign ministers from Africa and the global south to the “friends of the Brics” meeting.

Pursuing a policy of inclusive engagement, South Africa, serving its term as chair of Brics, is looking towards attracting like-minded countries to the growing group.

Brics has huge stakes in South Africa – mainly in banking, infrastructure, mining, transport and renewable energy – with the Industrial Commercial Bank of China having ploughed in a massive investment of $4.7 billion (about R93 billion) as a 20% stake in Standard Bank. Brics aims to promote peace, security, development and cooperation.

According to the National Treasury, the collective strength of the Brics economies “is of ever-increasing importance to the global economy”, with the International Monetary Fund having forecast growth in emerging markets and developing economies as being on track to build to 5.5%.

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Brics countries have displayed their relevance in several dimensions, which include:

  • Together occupying about 26% of the planet’s land;
  • Home to 41% of the world population and about 46% of its workforce;
  • A combined gross domestic product (GDP) of about $14.9 trillion, accounting for about 19% of the world GDP;
  • An estimated $4.5 trillion in combined foreign reserves; and
  • Being responsible for 55% of global growth since the end of 2009.

Having established itself on a global stage, Brics is a body which cannot be wished away by the rich Western countries, which include the United States.

In the words of scholar Alisha Pinto, an expert on Indo-African relations, South Africa holds a strategic position within Brics.

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Says Pinto: “South Africa’s entry into Brics on 24 December, 2010, was a Christmas gift to itself.

“Even though it has a much smaller population and economy as compared to Nigeria, other factors worked in its favour – its vast natural resources such as gold, diamonds and platinum, its excellent infrastructure, established corporate footprints, a culture of innovation, easy access to finance for business, a stable macro and micro financial climate, an advanced banking system and functioning regulatory frameworks.

“South Africa is already the voice of the continent at various international forums.

“It is poised to serve as a base, as well as a gateway for investment from the Brics countries to the vast market of a billion Africans.”

ALSO READ: Russian President Vladimir Putin to ‘Zoom’ in for Brics summit in August?

Putin aside, we are dealing with a group that is poised to make a huge impact on the global economic stage – especially when looking at attracting Türkiye and Saudi Arabia as member states.

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