Looking back at the BRICS 5th Summit held at the end of March, it may be said that this group of countries has made themselves even more relevant in the international arena.
The political will amongst the five member states to use the platform as a means to engage on issues of international and intra-BRICS relevance has clearly remained firm.
Beyond high-level government engagements, the summit’s success is better measured in terms of the agreements signed, emphasising the commercial rationale which underpins the BRICS.
BRICS leaders re-committed to the establishment of a joint development bank. Some observers where disappointed that the bank itself was not launched but the delay in establishing the formal structures of the bank could be seen as a sign of commitment from the member states to ensure that the bank, when launched, is necessarily robust.
Complex issues remain to be settled, and the fact that strong political pressure to launch the bank at the conference was not bowed to suggests a pragmatism which may provide longevity to the eventual institution.
Other highlights of this summit include: - BRICS leaders agreed to establish a US$100-billion pool of foreign reserves to provide balance of payments support in times of crisis. - The BRICS Business Council was formally established at the summit. Ideally, the council will act as an important platform for the formation of more considered and coherent intra-BRICS business linkages. - South Africa successfully leveraged its host nation status. - The African agenda was prominent. South Africa had exercised its prerogative as host to place Africa at the centre of the summit’s deliberations. This call was, significantly, endorsed by the attendance of several prominent African heads of state (including from Egypt, Cote d’Ivoire and Ethiopia) at the BRICS Leaders-Africa Dialogue Forum. And African issues featured prominently in the summit’s eThekwini Declaration.