President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his weekly newsletter, says South Africa’s cooperation with Brics countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) will accelerate the country’s move towards a low-carbon development in the fight against climate change.
He said cooperation, “particularly in the field of innovation research, will help to accelerate [South Africa’s] industrialisation as well”.
Joining Brics a milestone for SA
Advancing national development priorities
Ramaphosa said joining the Brics group of countries in 2010 “was a milestone in our quest to advance our own national development priorities”.
South Africa has done that by “forging stronger ties with the important emerging economies, such as Brazil, Russia, India and China”.
“Brics countries comprise roughly 41% of the world’s population and account for around 24% of global GDP and some 16% of global trade. We have reaped the benefits of membership of this important bloc.”
Vital foreign direct investment
He said Brics countries are important sources of foreign direct investment in South Africa, specifically in the mining, automotive, transportation, clean energy, financial services and IT sectors.
This was confirmed by a 2018 review of South Africa’s Brics membership by Deloitte, which noted Brics partners “invested three times more capital in the country compared to the seven years prior to 2011”.
Ramaphosa said the investments had led to significant job creation, as well as financing and technical support for projects across several economic sectors.
Covid-19 vaccines in South Africa
The president said the “mutual recognition of national documents of vaccination and systems of Covid-19 testing […] will be vital to cross-border travel in the future”.
“The concept of mutually beneficial cooperation will be particularly important in the global economic recovery, where unequal development means that some countries will bounce back quickly, while others will lag behind,” he explained.
Climate action in SA
Ramaphosa also said developing countries, such as South Africa, needed assistance to “achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals”, and the Brics membership helped in this regard as well.
“Like most countries, South Africa seeks to move towards a low-carbon development path that is inclusive, sustainable and that takes into account our status as a developing country.”
He said the Brics Energy Research Cooperation Platform “will be valuable as we move to diversify our energy sources”.
“In the eleven years since we joined Brics, our membership has substantially advanced our national interest. Being a member of Brics has enhanced our position as an important emerging economy.”
‘Recast the nets’
Ramaphosa also reflected on late former president Nelson Mandela’s article for Foreign Policy magazine, penned a year before our first democratic elections.
“Reflecting on the shifts in global alliances brought about by the end of the Cold War, [Mandela] wrote that countries would have to ‘recast their nets’ if they were to reap any benefit from international affairs.”
He spoke of the tectonic shift in 1994 when South Africa “made a decisive break” – not just with apartheid but the international relations outlook of its architects.
“Since the tectonic shift of 1994 when we made a decisive break with not just apartheid but the international relations outlook of its architects, South Africa’s foreign policy continues to be characterised by this ‘recasting the net’.”