Zuma leads delegation to Brics meeting

2012-03-28 12:53

South African President Jacob Zuma has arrived at the fourth BRICS Summit in Delhi, India.

Zuma was leading a government and business delegation on the country’s second visit to the summit with representatives of the Brazil Russia India China South Africa (BRICS) trading block, set for tomorrow and Friday.

South Africa was admitted to the bloc in China in 2011.

The 2012 summit would look at global governance as well as sustainable development matters.

The Presidency said South Africa would also use the summit to help advance the African agenda in seeking support from BRICS partners for infrastructure development and industrialisation initiatives.

South Africa would also advocate for the reform of global governance institutions.

World Bank and International Monetary Fund World Economic Outlook figures released in September 2011 indicate that BRICS countries have a combined population of 2 945.4 billion people.

The latest economic figures indicate that South Africa’s trade with BRICS countries increased between 2005 and 2010.

BRICS-Africa trade was also projected to increase from $150 billion in 2010 to $350 billion in 2015.

Standard Bank’s global head and director of structured trade and commodity finance Craig Polkinghorne said trade just between India and Africa alone could double to $100 billion in the next few years.

This could happen if the continent and one of the world’s fastest growing economies fully exploit their trade potential.

“This would bring India a step closer to the level of China, whose two-way trade with Africa reached a record $115-billion in 2010 according to Chinese officials,” he said.

Polkinghorne said with India on a path of sustained and rapid economic development, there was no shortage of opportunities to deepen trade relations much further.

Factors that could drive the growth between the countries include African agricultural and mineral commodities to meet the demands of India’s growing population and rapid economic growth.

“India’s close proximity to Africa means that commodities from the continent could be shipped quicker and cheaper compared with other markets such as China and Europe,” said Polkinghorne.

He said the biggest opportunity for growth in the Africa-India trade relations was in agriculture.

Polkinghorne said India and China were going to import more food in coming decades because of their growing populations, and strained capacity to produce enough from their own resources.

Rising incomes and urbanisation were leading to dramatic increases in food consumption in India, now among countries that consume the most food in the world.

Zuma was accompanied by International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, the Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies, Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel, the Minister of Communications, Dina Pule and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.

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