Boosting South Africa’s Economic Relations with the BRICS
South Africa should argue the case for stronger economic cooperation within the grouping, despite the challenges in intra-BRICS economic relations as was observed in the paper. Firstly, while it appears that financial cooperation, specifically with regards to the New Development Bank and the mooted BRICS credit rating agency, is likely to dominate discussions under China’s chairmanship in 2017, intra-BRICS trade and investment should not be neglected. In 2018 South Africa’s opportunity to shape the economic priorities of the BRICS agenda, will be even greater when it is the next host of the BRICS. South Africa could again follow the approach adopted in 2013 when it last hosted the group to draw in the participation of other African countries to help focus BRIC attention on the underlying business opportunities in its own region, as well as its own efforts to support the development of regional value chains that could link into global value chains. Secondly, South Africa could push to ensure that agreements and undertakings already made within the group are being implemented. In 2016 at the meeting of the BRICS Trade Ministers, a number of initiatives were proposed to promote trade and investment, including facilitating a greater enabling environment for micro, small and medium enterprises, addressing non-tariff measures, promoting greater cooperation on trade facilitation measures such as standards and single windows, promoting trade in services sectors, intellectual property rights cooperation and collaboration on e-commerce related issues. Thirdly, given the plethora of cooperation agreements, memorandums of understanding, roadmaps and plans, it is often difficult to ascertain the level of implementation of accords among the five BRICS countries. Establishment of a monitoring mechanism to track commitments and ensure implementation would be useful.