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Representatives of the five countries’ business communities have organised BRICS Business Forums on the sidelines of previous gatherings, but this year will be the first at which they will participate officially in the group’s events.
Rob Davies, South Africa’s minister of trade and industry, announced earlier this month that the BRICS Business Council – a platform for strengthening economic ties, trade and investment between the five emerging economies – will be launched in Durban on Monday.
The Council will provide technical support, consultative advice and implementation of specific business projects, he said. Through working groups, the Council will focus on specific priority areas.
“These areas include promotion of trade and industry and business cooperation, technology transfer and development, tapping business opportunities in third countries and multilateral business, advisory role, cooperation in the fields of manufacturing, infrastructure, banking and financial services, green economy, skills development and training and small and medium enterprises,” said Davies.
Each of the five BRICS member countries will nominate five business leaders to the Council for a total of 25 members. These members will participate in an ongoing dialogue with government and submit an annual report to leaders at the annual BRICS summits.
South Africa has nominated mining magnate Patrice Motsepe, founder and executive chairman of African Rainbow Minerals, to chair its delegation.
Other members from South Africa will include Nomaxabiso Majokweni, the chief executive of Business Unity SA (Busa); Sandile Zungu, the secretary-general of the Black Business Council; Iqbal Survé, the executive chairman of Sekunjalo Investment Holdings; and Brian Molefe, the group chief executive of Transnet. Stavros Nicolaou, a senior executive at Aspen Pharmacare has been nominated to serve as an alternate.
The BRICS Business Forum – a wider gathering of business leaders – will convene for meetings alongside the formal summit on Tuesday.
The Forum’s programme will focus on five key areas: infrastructure; mining beneficiation; agriculture and agro-processing; financial services; and energy and the green economy.
Tuesday’s Forum will be the third held in conjunction with the BRICS’ formal summits. Last year’s gathering – organised by the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Confederation of Indian Industry and Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India – drew more than 600 delegates to New Delhi.
The Forum’s inaugural meeting – convened by the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade – drew more than 400 delegates to Sanya, China in April 2011.
As a group, the BRICS countries account for 42 per cent of the world’s population, 21 per cent of global GDP and contributed roughly $2.2 trillion in economic growth last year.
According to data from the International Trade Centre, annual trade volumes among the five BRICS increased roughly six-fold over the past decade to more than $300-billion. The BRICS Business Forum’s target for intra-BRICS trade is at least $500 billion by 2015.
Matt Quigley for The BRICS Post