Statement by the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, on the occasion of the joint press briefing with the Premier of the KwaZulu-Natal Province, Dr Zweli Mkhize, regarding preparations for the 5th BRICS Summit, 05 March 2013, Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban
Premier of KwaZulu Natal, Dr Zweli Mkhize,
Senior Government Officials Present,
Members of the Media,
We are in Durban today as part of a nation-wide road show that is intended to raise public awareness around South Africa’s hosting of the 5th BRICS Summit. This historic Summit – the first time that it is held in Africa – will take place here in Durban, eThekwini, KwaZulu-Natal, at the iNkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre (ICC) from 26-27 March 2013.
We are in Durban also to ascertain the state of readiness to host this very important gathering of some of the world’s biggest emerging market economies.
South Africa’s delegation to the Summit will be led by H.E. President Jacob Zuma and will include several Cabinet Ministers and a business delegation. The delegations of the other BRICS member states, i.e. Brazil, Russia, India and China, will be led by their respective Heads of State and Government, and will also consist of large business contingents.
In preparation for the hosting of the Fifth BRICS Summit, a BRICS Strategy was also developed and presented to Cabinet on 18 September 2012. Cabinet has approved the BRICS Strategy that included extensive consultation with Government stakeholders and which guide’s South Africa’s strategic engagement in BRICS.
Cabinet also endorsed an Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) that oversees preparations for this Summit, including both the substance of the Summit and the logistics thereof. I can indicate on behalf of the IMC that Government is satisfied with the state of preparations for the Summit.
The BRICS Strategy contextualises BRICS against the backdrop of the evolving international system and related structures which witnessed the G20 replacing the G8 as the premier forum for international economic cooperation, as well as the repositioning of Africa in these structures- it emphasises the value of BRICS in economic and financial terms. The purpose of the Strategy is to guide the engagements of South Africa by identifying objectives of and opportunities in becoming a member of this esteemed grouping.
The BRICS mechanism aims to achieve peace, security, development and cooperation. It also seeks to contribute significantly to the development of humanity and establish a more equitable and fair world.
The 5th BRICS Summit will take place under the theme: “BRICS and Africa – Partnership for Development, Integration and Industrialisation”. The choice of the theme is in line with one of our foreign policy priorities, which is to champion the African Agenda. It is our intention to link the BRICS countries with the African continent, which is the second fastest growing region in the world after Asia.
Members of the media,
South Africa joined BRICS with three objectives in mind:
To advance its national interests as outlined in the President’s State of the Nation Address and relevant policy frameworks
To promote its regional integration programme and related continental infrastructure and industrialisation programmes; and
To partner with key players of the South on issues related to the reform of the institutions of global governance in the relevant financial, economic and political spheres.
South Africa’s membership of the BRICS grouping is important for various reasons. Through our participation in the BRICS, we endeavour to further leverage economic opportunities for our own development agenda, as well as that of the African continent.
South Africa membership of BRICS has delivered tangible economic dividends. The negative trade balance with BRICS countries has been substantially reduced. Bilateral SA-BRICS trade also grew substantially in 2011, powered by significant increases in trade and exports. In 2011 South African exports to China grew the most - at 46% - while exports to India grew by 20%, to Brazil by 14%, and to Russia by 7%.
In line with the President’s State of the Nation Address, BRICS countries are also investing heavily in infrastructure and plan to spend USD4, 5 trillion over the next five years. South Africa can therefore leverage support from BRICS countries for our own infrastructure development programme.
Our membership of the BRICS has expanded the group’s geographic and intercontinental reach, including its global representivity and inclusiveness.
South Africa’s national interests are closely linked to the interests of our fellow African states. Our BRICS membership bears direct benefits for Africa. Indeed, in the short period within which it has existed, BRICS has and continues to contribute to Africa’s economic emergence, thereby elevating the continent’s global stature.
Africa’s relevance to the BRICS will be highlighted later this month here in Durban when the BRICS Leaders, for the first time since BRICS was formed, interact directly with African leaders in what we term the “BRICS Leaders-Africa Dialogue Forum”, which is scheduled after the Summit, on 27 March 2013.
At the last BRICS Summit in New Delhi, India, the BRICS Leaders reiterated the highest importance attached to economic growth that supports development and stability in Africa. The Leaders undertook support Africa’s efforts to accelerate the diversification and modernisation of its economies. This support would be directed at infrastructure development, knowledge exchange and support for increased access to technology, enhanced capacity-building and investment in human capital, including within the framework of NEPAD.
Members of the media,
The outcomes of the 5th BRICS Summit will be captured in what is to become known as the “eThekwini Declaration and Action Plan”.
These outcomes include:
- The announcement to launch a BRICS-led new Development Bank;
- the launch of the BRICS Consortium of Think Tanks;
- the launch of the BRICS Business Council; as well as
Regarding our state of readiness to host the Summit, we can indicate that preparations are at an advanced stage, with only a few weeks left before the start of the Summit.
We thank the Premier and the city for its remarkable support to ensure an unforgettable Summit. The marketing and branding benefit that the hosting of the Summit by the Province will bring to the country is indeed significant.
We have no doubt that we will host yet another historic and successful Summit here in Durban.
ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION