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Brics summit gives SA a boost

Written by Sihle Manda

International Relations/ Africa News

Five of the world's biggest emerging economies maintained confidence in the multilateral system, and further committing to strengthening economic cooperation

When the curtain fell on the 10th BRICS Summit held in Sandton recently a clear mandate of solidifying trade cooperation and partnership between the five member countries was reaffirmed.

Over 1000 delegates from the member countries - South Africa, Brazil, China and Russia descended on the Sandton Convention Centre over three days. Among the delegates were captains of industry and government leaders.

Closing the summit President Cyril Ramaphosa declared the gathering as having been a major success.

“We as South Africa are very pleased with the way the BRICS summit succeeded in achieving the many objectives we had in mind. It was one of the most well organised summits as articulated by the heads of state from the BRICS countries,” he said.

This much was evident in the list of trade agreements and memoranda entered into over the three days. Among the burning topics that the leaders grappled with was the ongoing trade war waging between the United States (US) and China, which threatened to claim struggling emerging economies as its casualties.

In July US imposed tariffs of 25percent on Chinese imported goods valued at $34 billion. Further levies in products from China as well as tariffs on and aluminium from the EU, Canada and Mexico were imposed.

Five of the world's biggest emerging economies maintained confidence in the multilateral system, and further committing to strengthening economic cooperation in the face of US tariff threats and unilateralism.

“We should stay committed to multilateralism,” said China's President  Xi Jinping  adding that trade wars should be rejected.

“Economic hegemony should be rejected. Those who pursue that will only hurt themselves, As BRICS, we should be resolute in rejecting unilateralism and protectionism,”  said President Xi. From left to right: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chinese President Xi Jinping followed by President Cyril Ramaphosa, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Michel Temer during the 10th BRICS Summit held in Sandton.

BRICS seal the deal

Among deals sealed BRICS Aviation memorandum of understanding between the five countries. The agreement sought to expand and deepen cooperation among competent authorities in the field from the BRICS countries. Among other things, the cooperation will see the countries share public policies and best practice, with keen focus on airports management, infrastructure, navigation services, innovation as well as pilot training

This agreement will ensure that our country continues to have adequate and highly skilled aviation professionals.

An environmental agreement was also entered into, with each member country committing to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals on air quality, water, biodiversity, climate change, waste management.

South Africa’s role of big brother for the rest of the continent was cemented during the Summit with various African leaders making guest appearances as well as trade deals that would benefit some countries. Russia signalled its intention when it penned a memorandum of understanding with Zimbabwe for the production of platinum group metals. Projects are already unfolding in the country.

Trade between the five countries increased significantly over seven years, increasing from R203 billion to R462 billion between 2010 and 2017.

The African Union, the East African Community (EAC), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA); the Southern African Development Community (SADC); Common Market of the South (MERCOSUR ), South Africa and influential Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN),  the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), as well as the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) were just some of organisations invited to various sessions held during the summit and interacted with BRICS.South African first lady Dr Tshepo Motsepe and People’s Republic of China's first lady Ms Peng Liyuan visited the Uthando Christian Daycare Centre in Mamelodi during the China State visit to South Africa.

China state visit

Meanwhile the South African government signed several agreements with China, including an investment commitment from China to the tune of $14.7 billion.

This was during China’s State visit where President Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan visited Pretoria with the idea of boosting bilateral relations and cooperation.

Relations between the two countries date back to January 1998 when ties were first established. Over the past two decades, relations have continued to blossom. 

 “President Xi Jinping has indicated that China was ready to invest and work with South Africa in various sectors, such as infrastructure development, the ocean economy, the green economy, science and technology, agriculture, environment and finance,” President Ramaphosa said.

The total trade between South Africa and China has been growing since 2009, moving increasing R118 billion to R271 billion by the end of 2013.

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