South Africa, Africa, and the BRICS: progress, problems, and prospects: policy brief

South Africa, Africa, and the BRICS: progress, problems, and prospects: policy brief

The Centre for Conflict Resolution (CCR), Cape Town, South Africa, hosted a two-day policy advisory group seminar in Tshwane (Pretoria), South Africa, 2014. The Tshwane meeting brought together about 30 key South African, BRICS, and other policymakers, academics, and civil society actors to assess the potential for increasing the impact of the BRICS on global politics, and to develop concrete recommendations in support of South Africa’s continuing engagement with the five country bloc.

The following recommendations came out of this meeting:

  • the creation of a BRICS Business Travel Card should be considered to facilitate entry and exit for business travellers within the bloc’s five economies, following the example of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) region. New Delhi, Tshwane, and Brasília must also prioritise the finalisation, ratification, and implementation of an envisaged trilateral trade area among India, the South Africa-led Southern African Customs Union (SACU), and the Brazil-led Common Southern Market (MERCOSUR)
  • the BRICS should consider expanding and opening up the bloc’s engagement with non-governmental organisations (NGOs), which has so far been the preserve of a few select bodies in the BRICS Think Tanks Council and the BRICS Academic Forum. Civil society can be a source of creative solutions to global challenges that could help the five emerging powers move beyond a narrowly defined trade and finance agenda, and influence Western-dominated debates on development, climate change, and human rights
  • it is vital that South Africa and Brazil identify areas of trade complementarity in order to reduce their bilateral trade deficit. Brazil, with its highly developed agribusiness sector, can also help South Africa increase value-added exports in its trade profile through collaborative ventures, technology transfers, and knowledge-sharing, particularly in the citrus industry
  • greater educational, scientific, and cultural cooperation between South Africa and Russia urgently needs to be fostered for their bilateral economic engagement to reach its potential. In this regard, Moscow should consider re-establishing cultural centres to address the lack of knowledge about Russia in South Africa, while exploring ways to strengthen the impact of its Coordinating Committee for Economic Cooperation with Sub-Saharan Africa (AFROCOM)
  • given the weak prospects of achieving comprehensive UN Security Council reform, developing and emerging countries should initially focus their efforts on expanding non-permanent membership of the body, while continuing to argue against permanent membership without veto power. The BRICS should also campaign for an enhanced role for the 193-member UN General Assembly, including on issues currently being dealt with by the Security Council
  • the BRICS countries must make sure that the bloc’s agenda for the reform of key multilateral institutions – in particular the IMF, the World Bank, and the WTO, as well as the UN Security Council – is transparent and advances the interests of the “global South”, while complementing existing efforts by other groupings, such as the Group of 77 (G-77), to reshape the Western-dominated global order
  • the BRICS bloc must tackle the challenge posed by uneven financial flows and support the development of more effective regulatory measures, including exchange controls, to mitigate the impact of international capital volatility on developing and emerging economies, including their own. The BRICS countries should also consider increasing their investments in green and sustainable technologies, while making a more concerted effort to ensure greater reduction of greenhouse gas emissions
  • BRICS-Africa development cooperation – as also highlighted by the BRICS Leaders–Africa Dialogue Forum of 2013 – should include an emphasis on funding models that promote more multi-country projects and augment integration efforts on the continent. In addition, the BRICS New Development Bank, in contrast to the Bretton Woods institutions, must retain its commitment to non-conditionality and non-interference in the policymaking space of borrowing countries
  • the BRICS countries, notwithstanding the differences in their positions on the principle of R2P, must forge greater cohesion to prevent the abuse of the concept. The five emerging powers should create a coordinating mechanism at the United Nations, both to increase their influence in the UN Security Council and to move beyond crisis management towards agenda-setting on global peace and security issues


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