MEETING OF MINDS: President Zuma and Russian president Dmitry Medvedev. Picture: UNATI@DIRCO
Bernard Sathekge, Sapa and AFP
President Jacob Zuma arrived at the fourth Brics Summit in Delhi, India, on Wednesday for talks that were expected to translate into action following the entry of South Africa into the powerful bloc of emerging economies.
Zuma is leading a government and business delegation on the country’s second visit to the summit with representatives of the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (Brics) trading bloc, set for Thursday and Friday.
The 2012 summit is expected to look at global governance as well as sustainable development issues.
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.
The Minister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davies, who attended the Brics business forum yesterday, said the meeting was expected to enhance financial connectivity for increasing trade and investment cooperation among member countries.
He said the meeting would also focus on energy security, with the focus on green and renewable energy.
“We are of the view that there is a need to improve banking services among the Brics countries to help improve trade and business.
“Also there is huge space for the Brics countries to cooperate in promoting the diversification of energy structure, enhancing the stability of resource supply and developing energy-saving technologies.”
Brics trade ministers spoke of the need to strengthen the bloc’s internal trade as an antidote to problems in Europe.
Although trade between them is booming, Indian Commerce Minister Anand Sharma said it was nowhere near the levels one might expect from a grouping that comprises 40% of humanity.
“There is a large untapped growth potential for intra-Brics trade and investments that would facilitate economic growth at a time when the global economy is hobbled by uncertainty,” Sharma said.
“There has been a decline of demand in European markets. Despite this we have to sustain a high level of growth.”
The meeting was also expected to discuss the establishment of a joint development bank, providing a common investment fund for infrastructure and development projects.
“It would be a very powerful financial tool to improve trade opportunities, and may be a major step to support the EU to overcome its financial crisis,” said Brazilian Trade Minister Fernando Pimentel.
“Even if Europe manages to solve the big issues, we are clear that relations are going to increase among ourselves,” said Davies.
World Bank economic outlook figures released in September 2011 indicate that Brics countries have a combined population of about 2.95 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 $150bn (R1.1 trillion) in 2010 to $350bn in 2015.