BRICS not only on economic cooperation, but political voice of the South: minister

11:41, April 12, 2011      

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South Africa's entry into BRICS, a group of emerging economies, not only provides opportunities for economic development in Africa, but also demonstrates the voice of the South can not be ignored in global politics, a South African minister has said.

"BRIC countries are largely, I say largely, products of our forebears in the Bandung Conference of sole solidarity in 1955, so we are elated to see such South-South solidarity coming up with such economy giants emerging from this," International Relation and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said in a recent interview with Xinhua.

The minister said South Africa was "quite honored and elated" to have been invited to join "this very, very, important global grouping."

South Africa was officially admitted to the BRICS, the acronym for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, on Dec. 24.

"We believe we belong to BRICS because to complete the grouping they needed a country on the African continent and we thought we were the right candidate," she said.

"Looking at the new global political order unfolding out there, the members of BRIC also thought there was a political space for this country in their grouping -- they knew BRIC would not be complete if it did not have the voice of the most influential country in the South, particularly in Africa," she said.

South Africa is the largest economy in Africa, accounting for about a third of the total gross domestic product in sub-Saharan Africa.

The minister believes that membership in BRICS has offered South Africa huge economic benefits.

"They (BRIC members) offer a tremendous market. They offer huge potential for foreign direct investment, collaboration research in science and technology, particularly in food security and agricultural research, infrastructure development in Africa," the minister said.

Nkoana-Mashabane said she was excited about the role BRICS would play in bringing infrastructure development to the African continent.

"South Africa boasts of the finest financial institutions in the world, which we think is some of the expertise we can share with these other countries. So to address vulnerabilities? Partnerships, partnerships, partnerships," she said.

The minister pointed out that BRICS was no longer just about economic cooperation.

BRICS came at an important time when multi-polarity in global politics was almost in shape, she said, noting that South Africa saw a lot of opportunities the emerging countries could seize on the reforms of the United Nations and the international financial institutions.

She believed that BRICS could guarantee that the voices of emerging economies be heard.

Nkoana-Mashabane is going to accompany South African President Jacob Zuma to the third BRICS summit in the southern Chinese city of Sanya in mid-April. The first BRIC summit took place in June 2009.

"BRICS members are still talking about the overall and overarching vision. South Africa believes that we are there at the right time to make a kind of influence and make sure that BRICS doesn't just focus on big governments, big economies, but also looks at softer issues on how to make sure that ordinary people benefit and can also take ownership of BRICS," she said.

BRICS countries should also tackle poverty and underdevelopment, she said.

The minister said South Africa had high expectations toward the upcoming BRICS summit.

Source: Xinhua
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