Ahead of the start of the BRICS Summit in Durban, South Africa, Standard Bank Group yesterday hosted a business roundtable on intra-BRICS trade and investments.
The panel comprised: Sim Tshabalala, Joint Chief Executive of Standard Bank Group; Zhongheng Liu, President Huawei Enterprises; Siobhan Cleary, Director Strategy and Public Policy, Johannesburg Stock Exchange; Catherine Grant-Makokera, Head of Economic Diplomacy SAIIA; and Andrew England, Southern Africa Bureau Chief for the Financial Times.
They addressed a variety of issues relating to the BRICS countries, including trade flows, the changing investment landscape, market share and global GDP as well as skills and knowledge transfers.
All the panelists agreed the BRICS group will become increasingly importance in the coming years with the establishment of the new economic world. Building more sustainable political and economic ties within the BRICS could provide meaningful steer for broader BRICS-Africa engagements.
They highlighted the fact that in 2012 trade between Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa amounted to around US$310-billion, 11 times higher than in 2002. However, despite this rapid growth, intra-BRICS trade is still only about 10% of their total combined trade. BRICS trade account for nearly one-fifth of the group's total trade with emerging markets. And while this intra-BRICS trade has shown the most growth in the past decade, the BRICS trade more with Africa than they do with themselves.
The focus of the summit, they reminded the audience, is on all the BRIC countries and Africa as a whole and not South Africa alone.
Sim Tshabalala spoke of the increasing significance of the renminbi currency when it comes to trade in Africa. He also touched on Standard Bank Group’s work on defining and deeping the financial services group’s partnerships within the BRIC countries – both in the public and private sectors. He said relationships are the backbone of any bank and that Standard Bank Group is pleased to be hosting guests from those countries.
The 5th BRICS Summit kicks off today and BRICS stakeholders will over the next three days start gearing themselves towards preparing for a greater role in international markets. This economic drive is being supported by a number of initiatives across the BRICS countries to increase global competitiveness and to facilitate ease of doing business, for example BRICS sourcing hub for a skilled workforce.