“Rest assured, BRICS is a great benefit to our country and it’s an association that we are very proud of and that we intend to continue with.”
These were the words of President Cyril Ramaphosa as he fielded questions in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on the benefits of South Africa being part of the BRICS group of countries.
The group is now known as the BRICS Plus group following the addition of six new member countries - namely Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
“We, as a country, have benefitted a great deal [through] the association with other BRICS countries. China today is our largest trading partner and this has largely been cemented, upheld and encouraged by our membership of BRICS,” President Ramaphosa said on Thursday.
The President said South Africa continues to reap economic benefits from its association with the group, with talks during bilateral events going beyond political engagement.
“Indeed, many other BRICS members, who have now been admitted, are going to find that BRICS is an important forum that goes beyond just the political engagements at that level but also involves economic development, trade extension, technology extension and many other beneficial areas that advance humanity.
“[Just] the association in BRICS leads to a great deal of economic benefits for our country and we have seen such. Our trade with BRICS countries has grown in leaps and bounds, and many of the areas in which our trade has grown has been by virtue of being associated in BRICS. So there is a clear economic benefit there,” he said.
The President said the expansion of the BRICS group of countries, up from five members to 11, will give a “great boost, particularly to the Global South”.
He hinted at the possible further expansion of the group, which would give further credence to the group’s growing influence in global matters.
“We are, as it is now, going to consider membership applications from many other countries that want to be part of BRICS. So BRICS continues to grow. It continues to grow in importance, economically, politically, as well as [where] trade is concerned.
“BRICS is the great attraction that many countries now see for development and we want to keep BRICS as an important forum, as an important partnership that progresses countries that are associated with it or part of it,” he said.
Answering a question on the financial impact of South Africa’s hosting of the BRICS Summit in August, President Ramaphosa insisted that the economic benefits outweigh the costs.
“The summit that we held here was… a hugely successful summit and we are proud that the people of South Africa were part of it, embraced it and also enabled it to happen here on South African soil.
“The mere holding of a summit as large as the BRICS Summit – and this, by any measure, was the biggest BRICS Summit – brings together a huge number of people, many of whom come to South Africa either for the first time, and they come to spend their money here.
“One country alone, China, brought up to 600 people who, due to their presence here, needed beds to sleep in, needed food and transportation, etc,.. Many other countries brought a number of delegates just to come and attend.
“When you have an event like that, it inevitably leads to an economic benefit immediately because many of these people come with money from their own countries to spend here, so it increases the number of people who work,” President Ramaphosa said.
Source: South African Government News Agency