Everything you need to know about the #Brics2018 Summit in SA

The 10th annual Brics Leaders’ Summit will take place in Sandton, Johannesburg, which will see international heads of state, business leaders, civil society organisations and academics descend on South Africa.

The five member states - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - account for approximately a fifth of the world’s economic output and 40% of its population.

Fin24 takes a look at what to expect from the #Brics2018 Summit:

When: 25-27 July 2018. Various events will be held around the main summit, including the Brics Business Forum and Film Festival in Durban, as well as inter-ministerial events preceding the summit.

Where: Sandton Convention Centre. Expect tight security and road closures around the venue.

Who: Leaders, business and civil society delegations from each of the Brics countries. It will also include high-ranking officials from at least nine African countries, the African Union, other emerging markets and the United Nations, as part of the Brics outreach programme.

Why: South Africa assumed the role as chair of Brics from 1 January to 31 December 2018 (the role of chair rotates from member to member). The 2018 summit is considered a milestone for the bloc as it represents a decade of cooperation. SA also hosted the 2013 summit, which was held in Durban.

History of Brics

The Brics term was famously coined by chief economist for Goldman Sachs, Jim O’Neill, in 2001 in his publication ‘Building Better Global Economic Brics’ where he predicted that by 2041, the Brics would overtake the six largest western economies.

In the post-financial crisis world, south-to-south cooperation became increasingly important and the first BRIC summit was held in 2009 in Yekaterinburg, Russia.

SA in Brics

At the IBSA (India Brazil, SA) Summit in Brazil in April 2010, former president Lula da Silva invited former president Jacob Zuma to attend the second BRIC Summit as an observer, which was held back-to-back with the IBSA Summit.

Former SA minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane received a telephone call in December 2010 from the Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs, informing her that China, in its capacity as the rotating chair of the bloc, with the agreement of other member states, was inviting South Africa to join as a full member of BRIC, thereafter known as Brics.

Zuma attended the third Brics Summit in Sanya, China, in April 2011.

There have been some questions around SA’s involvement in the bloc as it has the smallest economy and population, but much like its inclusion in the G-20, it is seen as representing African interests and a gateway to the continent.

Brics milestones

With many corporates having established targeted Brics programmes and business schools and think tanks studying the bloc, there has been some criticism that the cooperation involving the geographically distant countries was a mere marketing gimmick or wishful thinking.

There have, however, been some demonstrable milestones in the last decade within Brics cooperation.

New Development Bank (NDB): At the 4th Brics Summit in New Delhi in 2012, member states considered the possibility of setting up a development bank to mobilise resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in Brics and other developing countries.

South Africa has so far received a R2.6bn loan to upgrade Transnet infrastructure and a dormant loan to Eskom to the value of R2.3bn was reactivated recently. The NDB also plans to lend a further as much as R8bn more to SA this year, in an effort to level the playing field among the five member states.

Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene was elected as chairperson of the board of governors of the NDB in May.

Africa Regional Centre (ARC): The New Development Bank officially opened the ARC in Johannesburg, in August 2017. The bank is aiming to establish the ARC as a contributor to infrastructure development in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the continent.

National Treasury’s Deputy Director-General for Economic Policy, Monale Ratsoma, was appointed the Director-General of the ARC.

Contingency Reserve Agreement: In 2014, member states agreed to set up a $100bn currency reserves pool (approximately R1.35trn) to help member states, emerging markets and other developing countries forestall on short-term liquidity pressures, instead of having to approach the World Bank or International Monetary Fund (IMF) for loans.  

2018 summit agenda

SA has made the following proposals which will be discussed by the leaders and if there is agreement, will be reflected in the Johannesburg declaration at the end of the summit.

  • Establishment of a Working Group on Peacekeeping;
  • Establishment of a Vaccine Research Centre for Collaboration with Brics vaccine innovation and development partners;
  • Establishment of a Brics Gender and Women’s Forum;
  • Leveraging the Strategy for Brics Economic Partnership towards the pursuit of inclusive growth and advancing the 4th Industrial Revolution – intended to foster discussions to addresses opportunities and challenges presented by the Fourth Industrial Revolution; and
  • Establishment of a Brics Tourism Track of Cooperation.

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