The SA BRICS Business Council arrived in New Delhi yesterday to attend the mid-term meeting of BRICS with their international counterparts.
BRICS is an association of five emerging economies; Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
Half of the world’s population, almost four billion people live in the five countries. Collectively. BRICS has a GDP of about $37 trillion.
Newly-appointed Chairman of the South African chapter of the BRICS Business Council, Dr Iqbal Surve’ says the mid-term meeting is an important event in the run-up to the BRICS Summit that will be hosted by China, in the city of Xiamen in September. The summit will be hosted in SAS next year.
Dr Surve, the executive chairman of Sekunjalo, says that he intends to strengthen the multilateral relationships of SA business community with the BRICS countries to the mutual benefit for each country.
The BRICS Business Council ensures on-going interaction between the business communities and governments of countries in BRICS, identifying problems, bottlenecks and solutions to facilitate trade and foster investment relationships.
BRICS Business Council members are appointed by the SA government. Commenting on his appointment as Chairman, Dr Surve said ‘that the BRICS Business Council members are first and foremost ambassadors for the country. “We are there to ensure that all South Africans benefit as the global economy moves rapidly towards the east and south,” he said.
In the age of Trump protectionism and Brexit we have to strengthen our ties with business in the East especially China and India whose economies are expected to be number one and number three in the world by 2030, with a GDP of $35 trillion and $16 trillion respectively.
Dr Surve′ is a founding member of the BRICS Business Council and says that he will build on the work done by his predecessors, Patrice Motsepe and most recently, Brian Molefe.
The SA BRICS Business Council members accompanying Dr Surve include Siyabonga Gama (Transnet CEO) , Danisa Baloyi ( Black Business Council President) who are new appointments and , Khanyisile Kweyama ( Business Unity South Africa) and Stavros Nicolaou (Aspen Pharmacare ) retain their positions as members of the Council. The Business Council will work closely with ministers in various clusters and business sectors including Finance, DTI, DIRCO, Science and Technology, Education.
Dr Surve′ said: “It is indeed an honour to lead the South African BRICS Business Council and to represent my country and in addition, I will work with some of the best business leaders in the country and in the various BRICS business councils. It is also an opportunity to enable our country to achieve the goals of inclusive growth and economic transformation.
I am passionate about job creation, education, skills development and technology and I hope that in this new role I will be able to ensure that BRICS benefits the most marginalised South Africans and Africans,” Dr Surve’ said.
The upcoming BRICS Business Council mid-term meeting will be taking stock of progress in deregulation, manufacturing, infrastructure, agri-business, skills development, financial services and energy and the green economy, and prepare for the September summit.
The meeting will end with a seminar on financing sustainable development.
Dr Surve′ said the Business Council has a huge role to play in economic development on all fronts.
“It is an interesting development that China is flying the flag for globalisation at a time when the United States President Donald Trump is taking a more protectionist stance.This opens up many opportunities, not only for South Africa, but for the continent.
“As South Africans we have to make sure that we remain relevant in the global economic order and that we have access to the global market, and access to capital,” he said.
He added that what is of utmost importance is to ensure that Africans benefit from the New Development Bank (NDB). The bank was established by BRICS to support public or private projects, by supplying loans, guarantees and equity participation.
“The bank must not just benefit countries in Asia, we want them to build dams, roads, power stations and railway lines in Africa,” Dr Surve′ said.
BRICS brings many opportunities to South Africa, as the country needs more foreign direct investment.
“South Africa spends more than 40 percent ( R153 billion) of the budget servicing debt and if we don’t have foreign direct investment it will lead to greater unemployment and social instability. That is why the Business Council is crucial. It is there to ensure as a country, we can channel FDI from the rest of the world, but mostly from Brazil, Russian, India and China,” said Dr Surve′.
“It is noteworthy that all five countries have different ideals, economic policies and politics, yet we know for economic growth we have to work together, to ensure our people benefit economically. Included in the benefits must be skilling and reskilling, in preparation for the fourth industrial revolution, where biological, physical and digital worlds meld”.
Dr Surve′ said that BRICS must represent a win-win for all its members.