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TBP (Pretoria, South Africa) – South African President Jacob Zuma has called the five BRICS economies a “bulwark in the global economy.”
Zuma was speaking at a press conference in Pretoria on the eve of the Fifth BRICS Summit which will take place from March 26 to 27 at the iNkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban.
More than 5,000 delegates are expected to attend the two-day gathering.
BRICS is an economic and political bloc representing five of the world’s leading emerging economies, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
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.
The theme of this year’s summit, which coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Organisation for African Unity, is “BRICS and Africa – Partnership for Development, Integration and Industrialisation.”
“As part of marking this milestone and promoting African renewal, I will be hosting the BRICS Leaders Africa Dialogue Forum Retreat after the conclusion of the Fifth BRICS Summit,” Zuma said.
The heads of state for 15-African countries along with the chairperson of the African Union Commission will meet with Zuma following the Summit for a retreat themed, “Unlocking Africa’s potential: BRICS and Africa Cooperation on Infrastructure”.
“The Retreat will reflect primarily on infrastructure development, as well as integration and industrialisation, which are aligned to Africa’s own priorities, for the mutual benefit of the BRICS countries and the Continent,” said Zuma.
A major priority for South Africa during the Summit itself will be the establishment of a BRICS Development Bank.
“A major output for us will be the establishment of the BRICS Development Bank to assist in mobilising resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging economies,” Zuma said.
Details of how the bank would work have yet to be finalised, but experts believe that it could start with $10 billion in seed money from each of the five BRICS countries.
Finance ministers from the five countries will table their feasibility studies of the bank at this week’s gathering.
“The bank will help BRICS sustain financial risks and provide support for the development of African countries”, Chinese state media quoted Ma Zhaoxu, a Chinese foreign ministry official, as saying.
Zuma will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping for talks at the Union Buildings in Pretoria tomorrow ahead of the summit.
The two leaders are expected to sign agreements and a Memorandum of Understanding before travelling to Durban later in the day.
China is South Africa’s largest trading partner. According to the South African Revenue Service, trade between the two countries totalled R201 billion (approximately $22 billion) last year.
According to data from the International Trade Centre, annual trade volumes among the five BRICS nations as a whole increased roughly six-fold over the past decade to more than $300 billion.
Zuma will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin later on Tuesday in Durban.
The two leaders will hold official talks and sign bilateral agreements in the areas of arts and culture and agriculture before holding a joint press conference.
Matt Quigley for The BRICS Post