BEIJING – As the leaders from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) gear up for their 14th summit, President Cyril Ramaphosa aims to further strengthen ties for South Africa’s growth and job creation.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping will host the virtual summit on Thursday under the theme of ushering in a “New Era for Global Development”.
Ramaphosa said in his weekly newsletter on Monday that the summit will be an opportunity to discuss how all countries could have a better chance of recovering from the pandemic and to flourish.
In the midst of the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the global food crisis currently being the hot topic, the president noted the importance of the BRICS Strategy on Food Security Co-operation adopted by the BRICS Ministers of Agriculture earlier this month.
Russia is an important importer of agricultural products in the world. In the future, it is necessary to strengthen the import of food products with China, Brazil, India and South Africa, as well as the export of wheat and corn, so as to realise the complementarity of food products among BRICS countries.
“Through the reform of the multilateral system, including the United Nations, and by refocusing the attention and resources of the global community on the sustainable development agenda, the BRICS group can support a sustained and equitable global recovery,” said Ramaphosa.
He added that last year more than 17% of South Africa’s exports were destined for BRICS countries and that over 29% of total imports came from them as well.
“These countries are therefore significant trading partners, and the value of this trade is continuing to grow… Total South African trade with other BRICS countries reached R702 billion in 2021 up from R487bn in 2017,” he said.
Further discussions at the summit are expected to be around the reforms in energy, transport, telecommunications and investments into infrastructure.
With tourism being one of the biggest sectors impacted by the pandemic, Ramaphosa will look further into reviving it noting that “tourists from other BRICS countries accounted for 65% of all arrivals in South Africa in 2018”.
In this regard, visitors from China and India are now able to make use of the new eVisa programme to simplify the admin in order to visit the country.
“Alongside the engagements between governments, the BRICS Business Council and the BRICS Women’s Business Alliance are building ties between our respective business communities.
“They have been looking at the development of sectors such as agribusiness, aviation, financial services, energy, manufacturing and infrastructure, while also improving regulatory environments and developing skills,” said Ramaphosa.