The CEO of Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA), Busisiwe Mavuso, has expressed optimism about the potential benefits of an expanded BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) for the nation’s trade prospects.
BRICS Members Prioritise Mutual Development
Mavuso commended the BRICS members for their emphasis on mutual development, noting that the discussions were largely centered on collaborative growth rather than anti-West sentiments. The primary focus was on trade and the regulatory framework that governs it.
“This was a strong positioning for South Africa as an enabler and gateway to the growth of Africa,” Mavuso remarked.
She further elaborated on the significance of the themes discussed, stating, “The fast-growing economies of BRICS – leaving aside Russia, whose fate is bound up in its own geopolitical issues – do have a great deal to gain from trade with each other. We also have a lot to learn from each other, especially in areas like transitioning our energy systems and infrastructure development.”
South Africa’s Role in the Global Trade Landscape
Ebrahim Patel, the Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, highlighted the importance of enhancing trade to spur growth. He pointed to Africa’s burgeoning young population, the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, and the continent’s entrepreneurial spirit as indicators of Africa’s potential as a global growth hub.
Mavuso believes that the enhanced cooperation within BRICS will be advantageous for South Africa, fostering an environment conducive to growth. She emphasized that a thriving South African economy would not be perceived as a threat to Western interests, but rather as an attractive destination for investment, trade, tourism, and more.
She also stressed the importance of South Africa capitalizing on its trade ties with the West, given the West’s significant imports of South African manufactured goods. This would position South Africa to tap into rapidly expanding markets such as India and China.
The Need for Fair Trade Rules
A significant point of discussion was the establishment of equitable trade rules within the expanded BRICS framework. This is to prevent skewed relationships and to provide member nations with clear guidelines for their interactions.
Mavuso praised President Cyril Ramaphosa for his unwavering commitment to multilateralism and adherence to the United States Charter. This approach, she believes, strikes a harmonious balance between BRICS’ aspirations and its engagement with Western nations.
BRICS: A Powerhouse in the Global Economy
Highlighting the economic might of BRICS, Mavuso pointed out that the member countries collectively represent over 47% of the global population and account for 37% of the world’s GDP, based on purchasing power parity.
“Given the respective rates of growth, member countries will account for the majority of the world’s population soon and likely the majority of economic activity in the medium run. That shows its importance as a trade opportunity for South African business,” she emphasized.
She also mentioned the New Development Bank’s role in funding infrastructure projects, which is poised to further stimulate economic growth in member nations.