Embracing multiculturalism, strengthening intra-BRICS cooperation and growing investment in Africa were the focal points of President Cyril Ramaphosa and China’s President Xi Jinping’s speeches as the BRICS summit opened on Wednesday.
The two leaders delivered their maiden speeches at the BRICS business forum where 400 business representatives from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa and heads of the new development were in attendance.
“We are concerned by the rise in unilateral measures that are incompatible with the World Trade Organisation rules and we are worried about the impact of these measures, especially on developing countries”, said Ramaphosa, reiterating sentiments shared by Trade Minister Rob Davies earlier on Wednesday.
As BRICS countries work on a thorough plan to deal with the effects of the trade war between the United States and China, Ramaphosa sees more opportunities in the African Trade Agreement (TFTA) signed by 44 African states in July this year. He said TFTA provides BRICS countries with opportunities to access a market of over 1 billion people and a combined GDP of over $3-trillion.
“The value of this free trade area will only be realised through massive investment in infrastructure and skills development”, said Ramaphosa.
Ramaphosa further emphasised investment opportunities available in South Africa, naming sectors such as renewable energy, recycling, biofuels, water infrastructure, energy, mining, and mineral beneficiation as some of the areas BRICS countries could invest in.
Chinese President Xi Jinping echoed Ramaphosa’s words on the trade war and the change in global powers. Jinping warned that the trade war between China and the US will not see any winner.
“Economic hegemony should be even more objectionable because it will undermine the collective interest of the international community. Those who pursue this course will end up hurting themselves”.
Xi Jinping pointed to Africa as not just a region with more potential for development potential in the world but said it was home to more developing countries than any other continent. Therefore BRICS should strengthen cooperation with Africa and make it a model for South-South cooperation.
Africa has grown between two to three percent points faster than the global GDP and its growth is predicted to remain above five percent this year, according to Ramaphosa.
The Chinese president announced the country will be hosting an international import expo in Shanghai in November and all countries are welcomed to attend. About 150 000 buyers will be attending.
“This expo will serve as a new platform for the world to access the Chinese market. By now, over 2 800 companies from more than 130 countries and regions have confirmed participation”, Jinping said.