The Department of International Relations and Cooperation strategy to ensure that South Africa is an effective participant in BRICSA



QUESTION NO:       541 (NW588E)

Mr LS Ngonyama (Cope) to ask the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation:

Whether her department has any strategy to ensure that South Africa is an effective participant in BRICSA; if not, why not; if so, (a) what strategy and (b) how does this plan fit (i) into South Africa’s global strategy and (ii) in with the top national priorities in South Africa?


  1. (a) I have clarified South Africa’s strategy for BRICS in terms of how it fits into South Africa’s global strategy and within the national priorities of South Africa through various policy addresses and media statements.  I would like to quote from the media statement issued on 24 December 2010 on South Africa’s full membership of BRICS, as well as highlight some pertinent issues in relation to our approach;


The rationale for South Africa’s approach was in consideration of a matter of crucial importance to BRICS member States, namely the role of emerging economies in advancing the restructuring of the global political, economic and financial architecture into one that is more equitable, balanced and rests on the important pillar of multilateralism.  Our approach to intensifying our relations with emerging powers and other countries of the South is, of course, through active and strong bilateral engagement.  In addition, however, we also see the NAM and the G77 as important for South-South interaction, especially within the framework of the United Nations.

At another level, we see the formation of the IBSA and our membership of that body as a mechanism not only for enhancing our trilateral partnership with India and Brazil, but also as an important pillar for strengthening the muscle of the South in global affairs.  We believe that the IBSA will get a better balance, and become even stronger, with South Africa now as a member of the BRICS.  We remain convinced that South Africa’s diversified foreign policy objectives and interests allow for both groupings (IBSA and BRICS) to co-exist.  It is our belief that the mandates of BRICS and IBSA are highly complementary.

South Africa and BRICS Member States already collaborated and will continue to collaborate closely in various international organisations and formations such as the United Nations, the G20 and the IBSA Dialogue Forum.  All BRICS countries will serve on the UNSC in 2011 as permanent (China, Russian Federation) or non-permanent members (Brazil, India and South Africa), which augurs positively for enhanced cooperation efforts in terms of the salient issues of common interest as quoted above.

  1. (a) and (b) As indicated in the Department’s Strategic Plan 2010-2013, the end of the 21st century has witnessed the emergence of major powers in the South, with formidable alliances being formed and other revitalised.  This sea-change in the geo-politics of the day provides the necessary space for us South Africans to invest our resources in strengthening South-South cooperation in the context of relevant organisations as cited, e.g. IBSA.  Evidently, strengthening South-South cooperation is one of our overarching departmental priorities.  While we had not cited BRIC directly, because South Africa was not a Member State at that stage, it had been included in our work programmes to strengthen synergy between IBSA and BRICS based on first interaction that had already taken place in 2010 when a first BRIC-IBSA Business Forum took place on the margins of the 4th IBSA Summit and 2nd BRIC Summit.  These were hosted back-to-back by former Brazilian President, Mr Lula da Silva and President Zuma attended a joint dinner for BRIC and IBSA Heads of State/Government.  We further had a strategy to obtain BRIC membership as was spearheaded by the President in the course of 2010 and which announcement I then made on 24 December 2010.


There are various complimentary advantages in being a Member State of BRICS from a political and economic agenda, notably the underpinning philosophy of inclusive growth.  We will attend our first Summit in April 2011 and the draft agenda is already indicative of addressing those issues that we prioritise in respect of our foreign policy engagements and also in respect of our domestic priorities.  For example, the comparative advantages of certain BRICS Member States can be utilised for South Africa’s development such as Brazil’s focus on Agriculture, India’s skills development and ICT and services, China on possible mineral beneficiation and value addition and the Russian Federation’s strength in science and technology including space science.  BRICS can also be linked to South Africa’s own domestic strategies, particularly the NGP and IPAP2 as well as increased cooperation with IDC and DBSA.  A further area for strategic cooperation in BRICS is that of science and technology innovation, notably transfer.  South Africa and Africa could benefit from initiatives by BRICS governments to develop their own home-grown green economic technologies.  BRICS membership will also be used to enhance core factors for economic growth such as ensuring macro-economic stability, building institutional capacity and strengthening the educational system.

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