Brics agenda marches on

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - OPINION - PRES­I­DENT JA­COB ZUMA

ON JAN­UARY 1, 2018, South Africa as­sumed the ro­ta­tional chair­ship of the Brics fo­rum and will host the 10th Brics sum­mit in Jo­han­nes­burg from July 25 to 27.

The 10th Brics sum­mit holds a spe­cial sig­nif­i­cance in the Brics his­tor­i­cal tra­jec­tory as it con­cludes the first decade of the Brics en­gage­ment at the high­est diplo­matic level and com­mences the sec­ond “golden decade”.

Brics (the acronym for the as­so­ci­a­tion of five ma­jor emerg­ing na­tional economies: Brazil, Rus­sia, In­dia, China and South Africa) forms an in­te­gral part of our for­eign pol­icy and builds upon in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions de­vel­oped since the dawn of democ­racy un­der pres­i­dent Nel­son Man­dela.

We are hon­oured to be host­ing the 10th Brics sum­mit dur­ing the same year in which we cel­e­brate the cen­te­nary of the fa­ther of our na­tion and an in­ter­na­tional icon.

Co­op­er­a­tion within the Brics fo­rum is founded upon the “Sanya Prin­ci­ples” of open­ness, sol­i­dar­ity and mu­tual as­sis­tance as adopted at the 2011 Brics sum­mit in Sanya.

South Africa views Brics as a plat­form that serves as an am­pli­fied voice to ad­vo­cate the shared in­ter­ests of emerg­ing mar­kets and de­vel­op­ing coun­tries, in par­tic­u­lar to ad­vance the re­form of the United Na­tions and the Bret­ton Woods in­sti­tu­tions. Brics sub­scribes to shared core prin­ci­ples, no­tably up­hold­ing the prin­ci­ple of mul­ti­lat­er­al­ism and the cen­tral role of the UN.

Since South Africa’s ac­ces­sion to the group in De­cem­ber 2010 the de­vel­op­men­tal needs and as­pi­ra­tions of the Global South, as well as those of Africa as con­tained in the AU’s Agenda 2063, have been fully in­cor­po­rated into the Brics agenda. Th­ese needs and as­pi­ra­tions con­tinue to be car­ried for­ward into other fora, such as the G20 and the UN.

South Africa hosted the fifth Brics sum­mit (eThek­wini sum­mit) in 2013 and the no­table de­liv­er­ables of that sum­mit in­clude the es­tab­lish­ment of the Brics Think Tanks Coun­cil and the Brics Busi­ness Coun­cil. Brics has sub­se­quently in­ten­si­fied its pro­gramme of in­sti­tu­tion-build­ing as ev­i­denced by the launch of the New De­vel­op­ment Bank in Shang­hai and the Africa Re­gional Cen­tre in Jo­han­nes­burg and the es­tab­lish­ment of the Con­tin­gent Re­serve Ar­range­ment.

On the oc­ca­sion of the eThek­wini sum­mit, South Africa also took the ini­tia­tive to host a Brics di­a­logue with part­ners from Africa on Africa’s in­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion and in­fras­truc­ture de­vel­op­ment agenda, thus ini­ti­at­ing an out­reach mech­a­nism in ac­cor­dance with the pro­vi­sion made in the Sanya Dec­la­ra­tion that: “We are open to in­creas­ing en­gage­ment and co-op­er­a­tion with non-Brics coun­tries, in par­tic­u­lar emerg­ing and de­vel­op­ing coun­tries, and rel­e­vant in­ter­na­tional and re­gional or­gan­i­sa­tions.”

This prac­tice has sub­se­quently been fur­ther de­vel­oped by suc­ces­sive Brics chairs and South Africa will con­tinue this ini­tia­tive dur­ing its ten­ure as Brics chair in 2018.

In cel­e­bra­tion of the sec­ond decade of Brics co­op­er­a­tion, the Jo­han­nes­burg sum­mit will be fo­cused on ar­eas re­lat­ing to de­vel­op­ing coun­tries; namely in­clu­sive growth and shared pros­per­ity.

In pur­suance of na­tional, con­ti­nen­tal and global in­ter­ests, South Africa dur­ing its Brics chair­ship will pri­ori­tise de­vel­op­men­tal ini­tia­tives such as women and gen­der em­pow­er­ment, peace for de­vel­op­ment, eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion for greater in­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion and con­tin­ued in­sti­tu­tion-build­ing in Brics.

In ad­vanc­ing th­ese ob­jec­tives it will be vi­tal not only to re­view past achieve­ments of Brics but also to com­mit to the con­sol­i­da­tion of strate­gic and prac­ti­cal co­op­er­a­tion and to fur­ther fos­ter in­sti­tu­tional de­vel­op­ment.

As we move for­ward, we do so with the in­ten­tion of so­lid­i­fy­ing our bonds of co­op­er­a­tion within Brics and with our part­ners in Africa and the de­vel­op­ing world.

We re­main firm in our com­mit­ment to con­tinue to strive for the cre­ation of a bet­ter life and bet­ter world for all mankind.

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