Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane during The New Age business briefing session. Picture: Jacoline Prinsloo
Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane told delegates at The New Age Business briefing on Tuesday that the country will host the 2013 Brics summit, an event that will see the launch of the Brics development bank.
Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane engaged local business leaders regarding opportunities associated with the country’s participation in Brics, the AU and current issues in international affairs.
Nkoana-Mashabane said the proposed development bank was one of the most critical initiatives undertaken within the bloc of emerging economies (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).
“We are hoping that when we host the Brics Summit next year, we will be able to launch the Brics development bank, because leaders are saying this must happen on the African soil”, she said.
In June minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies shared the same sentiments; he said we “hope a considerable amount of work will be done by next year when we host the summit”.
When leaders of the five countries met in New Delhi, India, on 29 March 2012 at the Fourth BRICS Summit, they declared that “Brics is a platform for cooperation and dialogue that represents 46% of world population for the promotion of peace, security and development in a multi-polar interdependent and increasingly complex globalising world”.
Mashabane said “we are transcontinental and our interaction adds value and significant to global politics and economics…it is in this context that we should attempt to understand the socio-economic and political framework of Brics”.
South Africa will utilise its membership of BRICS as a vehicle to advance South- South cooperation and African continent.
South Africa will host the summit only two years after joining the bloc. Referring to the questions around the country’s recent foreign policy decisions, Nkoane-Mashabane said International relations is not about “batho ba tla reng” (what will people say).
She emphasized that South Africans must move on with the debate and stop asking why the country was a member of the bloc. There was no doubt that South Africa was going to benefit from membership.
Mashabane said South Africa’s participation at Brics was inspired by the need to position and advance the interest of the African continent in the world.
“I can assure all analysts, that the objective to fulfill Africa’s remarkable potential is at the forefront of our political and economic diplomacy’, she said.
Nkoana-Mashabane took the opportunity to clarify South Africa’s foreign policy position in Syria and highlighted the need to reform the UN Security Council.
Is SA banking on Brics?
Nkoana-Mashabane urged South African business to take up opportunities emerging from the Brics formation and not to fret too much about squabbles as they were part and parcel of business realities.
Addressing the areas of potential dispute, Indian high commissioner in South Africa Virendra Gupta said it was not all hunky dory. He said there were fault lines but these would be addressed and did not overwhelm the benefits.
Business Unity South Africa’s (Busa’s) Nomaxabiso Majokweni, while praising the Brics initiative as a value-adding development, warned that members must address areas of constraints. “It is evident that the tectonic plates have moved and the balance of power is moving towards the Brics.”
She said Brics must not be motivated by geopolitical objectives but must translate into real economic objectives. She said the quality of trade between Brics members nations must improve towards valued-added products.