Steps taken by the South African Government to ensure that its national interests in the fields of the local beneficiation of resources, labour practices and job creation are secured and strengthened through the BRICS partnership
FOR ORAL REPLY
QUESTION NO: 253 (NO3079E)
PUBLISHED IN INTERNAL QUESTION PAPER NO: 7-2015 OF 12 AUGUST 2015
Ms H O Maxon (EFF) to ask the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation:
With reference to the view that the establishment of the New Development Bank by the BRICS partnership may have a significant impact on developing countries, particularly in Africa, on contested issues such as the exploitation of natural resources, land grabs and land displacement, labour practices, environmental concerns, agriculture and food security, what steps has the Government taken to ensure that its national interests in the fields of the local beneficiation of resources, labour practices and job creation are secured and strengthened through the BRICS partnership? NO3079E
1.1 The Agreement on the BRICS New Development Bank (NDB) has entered into force and the Bank’s Headquarters was officially launched on 21 July 2015 in Shanghai. The inaugural meeting of the Board of Governors of the NDB (i.e. Ministers of Finance) took place on 7 July 2015 in Moscow. At this meeting, they appointed the NDB’s Board of Directors and their alternates. The NDB’s President was elected and the Vice-Presidents were appointed. The NDB’s five year general strategy, which will be finalised by the Executive Management Team, was also discussed. The inaugural meeting of the Board of Directors took place on 21 July 2015 in Shanghai and the process of appointing the new President of the New Development Bank and the Vice Presidents was concluded. Delegation of powers to the President, enabling him to operationalise the NDB, were also finalised. The Board of Directors agreed on a timeline to finalize operational policies, expected within the next 3 months. This background illustrates that key policies of the NDB will be developed over the next few months. South Africa’s representation to these bodies includes Mr Leslie Maasdorp as the Vice President of the NDB and Mr Tito Mboweni as the Non-Executive Director of the NDB. They will reflect the views of the South African Government in respect of formulation of key policies of the NDB. The Minister of Finance, as a member of the Board for Governors, will also exercise oversight in this regard.
1.2 The particular priorities raised with regard to ensuring that national interests in the fields of the local beneficiation of resources, labour practices and job creation are secured and strengthened through the BRICS partnership, have consistently been promoted through all our BRICS engagements. It would be important to note that these issues are also contained in the Cabinet’s Strategy for BRICS, which was adopted in 2012, and although it is a classified document, directly addresses these priorities, which have also been regularly outlined in policy addresses by the relevant Government Ministers who are members of the BRICS Inter-Ministerial Committee.
1.3 The Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership; which the BRICS Leaders adopted at the recent Sixth BRICS Summit also clearly reflects these issues in the identified priority areas for cooperation such as manufacturing and minerals processing and agricultural cooperation.
1.4 The Fortaleza Declaration of 2014 called for both the New Development Bank Headquarters and African Regional Centre to be established concurrently. It has been agreed that once the headquarters policies are in place, the establishment of the Africa Regional Centre will then be prioritized. A Special Fund will be created within the Bank at the earliest opportunity, with the participation of all founding members for the purpose of assisting with project preparation. It is envisaged that the main role of the ARC in the beginning will be project preparation. The NDB has mandated the Vice President from South Africa, Mr Leslie Maasdorp to prepare a proposal setting out the process towards the establishment of the African Regional Centre to be submitted to the next Board of Directors’ meeting. A concept document in this regard served before Cabinet prior to submission to our BRICS partners and again reflected on the issues raised.
1.5 The Honourable Member may therefore rest assured that these key priorities of Government have been, and will continue to be promoted, in our BRICS engagements.
1.6 It could also be noted that the BRICS Trade Union Forum also meets prior to Summits where they issue a declaration where these issues are also reflected.