As the cloud over President Cyril Ramaphosa looms over his Phala Phala farm heist, he will be joining leaders of China, Brazil, Russia and India at the 14th BRICS leaders summit later this week.
The summit will be hosted virtually by the Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Ramaphosa said BRICS partnership has great value for the economy of South Africa and that this week’s summit will usher in a new era for global development that is more inclusive, sustainable and fair.
Food insecurity and hunger continues to be a challenge for South Africans, with many households not having enough money to buy or make their own food.
The county continues to be food insecure due to Covid-19, the conflict in Ukraine, poverty and population growth and the increasing effects of climate change.
Earlier this month, the BRICS minister of agriculture adopted a strategy on food security cooperation.
“The strategy aims to maintain sustainable agriculture production, unhindered supply of seeds, fertilizers and other agricultural inputs, access markets and sustainable functioning food value chains.”
South Africa joined the BRICS 12 years ago to strengthen the economy and for financial ties at times like now where we continue to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.
One of the key pillars of this cooperation, a strategy to increase access to each other’s markets to promote mutual trade and investment and to create a friendly environment for BRICS investors is to diversify trade.
This means that manufactured goods rather than commodities are traded and the value of this trade is continuing to grow.
“Last year, over 17% of South Africa’s exports were destined for other BRICS countries, while over 29% of our total imports came from these countries.”
A total of South African trade with other BRICS countries reached R702 billion in 2021 which plunged from R487 billion in 2017.
Ramaphosa said they are focused on improving the capacity and competitiveness of the economy and the trade linkages will be a vital growth to the local industry.
On one hand, there is a direct relationship between the reforms in energy, telecommunications and transport.
The investment in infrastructure and efforts to reduce red tape while on the other hand work is in progress to increase exports to the BRICS partners.
These reforms continue to motivate great investment from the BRICS to our economy.
The tourism sector suffered a huge blow from the pandemic, and an important contribution to the recovery of the sector is expected.
Tourists from BRICS accounted for 65% of all arrivals in SA in 2018, it is important that visitors from India and China can now make use of the new eVisa programme which makes it easier and less costly to visit SA.
New Development Bank
As the country continues to mobilise finance from different sources, the President expects the New Development Bank to fund the infrastructure build programme.
SA has already received around R86 billion from the New Development Bank to improve service delivery in critical areas.
“The Bank also demonstrated its flexibility in rapidly approving $2 billion for each BRICS member under the COVID-19 Emergency Loan Programme to fund the fight against the pandemic and to support our economic recovery.”
While engagements between governments continue, the BRICS Business Council and the BRICS Women’s Business Alliance are building ties between respective business communities.
They are looking at the developments of agribusiness, aviation, financial services, energy manufacturing and infrastructure.
In an effort to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, the virtual BRICS Vaccine Research and Development Centre was launched in March.
This enables the BRICS to engage in joint vaccine research development and co-production. It will contribute to the equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, to strengthen the health system, and to help the countries deal with future pandemics.
Ramaphosa will be calling on the BRICS partners to support the principle that vaccines destined for Africa should be produced on the continent.