On 30 March 2023, the South African Chapter of the BRICS Economic chapter hosted the Economic Indaba which delineated the 2023 roadmap, of which South Africa will have chairship. The chairship symbolises a unique and vital opportunity for South Africa to ensure the sustainable advancement of African (and more specifically, South African) economic growth. Minister Patel of the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) noted that “[the] economic Indaba provides an opportunity for business leaders to identify key objectives that should be persued in the period of SA’s chairing of and hosting the business forum.”
In a recent national interview preceding the Indaba, chairperson of BRICS Business Council Busi Mabuza noted that “this is a critical and significant structure of the BRICS workstreams, because it talks to economic and business collaboration in the interest of development and we have to do this in a manner that is mutually beneficial amongst our countries.”
She further pointed out that the BRICS Economic Indaba would, inter alia, unpack the opportunities that exist to close the gap between South Africa and other major trading countries. In this regard she noted that, in her opinion, the largest overall opportunity that would be addressed at the Indaba is the trade deficit in South Africa, which was reported to be approximately 16 billion ZAR with China and approximately 7 billion ZAR with India, in 2022. Allied to this, the discussions at the Indaba would cover the available platforms for business to access the plethora of trade opportunities, particularly in light of the fact that BRICS now accounts for 31.5% of global GDP.
Mabuza explained that principal values such as multilateralism, which is central to BRICS, has major benefits for businesses in the BRICS countries, which is particularly encouraging in light of widespread international protectionist policies becoming all-the-more prevalent. In light of the opportunities that lie ahead for South African trade partnerships this year, Minister Naledi Pandor announced that South Africa would adopt the following themes:
- Partnerships for mutually accelerated growth;
- Sustainable development, and
- Inclusive multilateralism
As an example of the opportunities that lie ahead for South Africa, Mabuza mentioned the agricultural sector. In this regard, much of South Africa’s premuim agricultural produce could be exported to the BRICS nations and in doing so, various other related benefits such as skills development, will follow.
During the online event, over 17 highly acclaimed speakers debated South African focus areas for 2023 in the agricultural, digital, financial services, green economy, trade and manufacturing sectors. In addition to the abovementioned focuses delineated by Mabuza, BRICS Ambassador-at-Large of Asia and BRICS at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), Anil Sooklal, emphasised the importance of establishing and maintaining a balance between the public and private sector. The event took place as one of many activities to be conducted in accordance with the business programme of BRICS. In the near future, the relevant BRICS groups will conduct vital meetings such as investment exhibitions and manufacturing fora.
For the full interview with Mabuza, click here.