Value-added trade and establishment of the BRICS Development Bank are high on the agenda of the BRICS countries, South African Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said as the BRICS Business Council met here to identify specific measures to step up trade and investment.
Davies said trade ministers of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) group of countries had been meeting over the years to discuss ways of promoting cooperation in trade and investment.
“One of the important conclusions that we came to is that we are all industrialising economies, a group of dynamic, emerging economies,” he said. “As such, we need to promote a pattern of interaction in the area of trade, which supports value-added production in each of our economies.”
BRICS trade ministers have embarked on a study on how to promote value-added products and strengthen investment relations.
The South African chairperson of the Council, Patrice Motsepe, said that mutual benefit was also an important factor for the BRICS countries.
“Not just a talk-shop. We don’t want discussions that are theoretical or academic,” he said, noting that specific projects had been identified for discussion. “For us, it’s to focus on value-added exports, the processing of products and manufacturing in South Africa.
“I’m confident that in the next few year, you will see a change in the quality of trade that has been taking place between South Africa and Africa, and the rest of the BRICS countries,” Motsepe said.
Referring to Africa, Davies said value-added products would transform the continent from a “source of raw materials” into a key player in the global economy.
‘We need to add value to our products. We need to add value to our mineral products [and] our agricultural products.
“We need to promote a much more value-added economy. We need to do this by integrating our continent [Africa]. We need to consolidate this by a massive infrastructure development programme on the continent,” Davies told reporters.
Davies said that Africa, which was the next growth frontier, needed to set out on a different trajectory over next few years if it was “to consolidate that growth into real development”. The continent needed to industrialise, he said.
Regarding the setting up of Brics development Bank, he said: “We think that there is a massive investment challenge which faces all of us in BRICS .”
At the conclusion of the fifth BRICS summit in Durban in March, the BRICS leaders had agreed to the establishment of a BRICS Development Bank to help finance infrastructure programmes and sustainable development in BRICS and other developing countries.
South Africa Reserve Bank deputy governor Daniel Mminele earlier this month had said chief negotiators had been appointed by each country, and that negotiations had begun to set up the Bank.
Davies said he believed the bank could also benefit non-BRICS members.
“Among other things, a Brics-led development bank would play a role in financing projects in all of the Brics countries, but not necessarily only in the Brics countries,” he said.
“From a South African perspective … we need to create jobs for our people. We need to create opportunities for improving the standards of living for our people.”
Prominent business leaders from 19 other African countries are also taking part in the first BRICS Business Council meeting at the Sandton Convention Centre.
The Council was established by the BRICS heads of state and government during their summit in Durban in March 2013, to develop and grow business, trade, manufacturing and investment ties amongst the group countries and between them and Africa.