South Africa has received a formal invitation to join the Brazil, Russia, India and China (Bric) group of large emerging economies, International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said on Friday.
“China, in its capacity as rotating chairperson of the Bric formation, based on agreement reached by the Bric member states, invited South Africa as a full member into what will in future be called Brics,” Nkoana-Mashabane told journalists in Pretoria.
She said she received a phone call on Thursday from Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi informing her of the invitation to join the group, whose current members will account for 61% of global growth in 2014, according to the International Monetary Fund.
“(Chinese) President Hu Jintao also issued a letter of invitation to President Jacob Zuma to attend the third Brics leaders’ summit, to be held in China in the first quarter of 2011,” Nkoana-Mashabane added.
The Bric countries are not formally linked but have held summits and taken steps to boost financial cooperation and investment opportunities among them.
South Africa, whose economy is about one-fourth the size of India’s, had been lobbying heavily to be admitted to the club.
Meanwhile, Reuters reported Chinese state media agency Xinhua had confirmed China had South Africa to join the four-member grouping of fast-growing emerging markets on Friday.
Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said Bric has accepted South Africa as a full member of the group, according to Xinhua, which was monitored in Johannesburg.
China, South Africa’s largest trading partner, will invite President Jacob Zuma to attend a summit of Bric leaders that Beijing will host next year, it said.
South Africa is the world’s 31st-largest economy, according to World Bank data for 2009 and is less than a quarter the size of the smallest Bric economy, Russia.
Projected growth for SA
The Bric countries have sought greater clout for their grouping, holding a summit in Russia in 2009. “Bric” is a term invented in 2001 by Jim O’Neill, the chairperson of Goldman Sachs Asset Management.
South Africa applied to join Bric at the G20 meeting of the world’s leading economies in Seoul in November, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said at the meeting.
Its economy is projected by its government to grow about 3% this year, hardly the blistering pace seen in other Bric countries.
Some investors make asset allocations based on the Bric classification and all of the countries that currently make up the grouping have seen their global financial clout increase substantially in recent years. — AFP, Reuters