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South Africa: Trade, Investment Tops Brics Ministers' Meeting

South Africa: Trade, Investment Tops Brics Ministers' Meeting

photo by:South China Morning Post

Issues related to trade and investment promotion were discussed at the 7th meeting of the BRICS Ministers of Trade in China.

"The Trade Ministers established collaborative mechanisms among BRICS [Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa] countries which are aimed at encouraging information sharing and capacity building, through activities such as expert dialogues and workshops, and build a common understanding on among others e-port network, investment facilitation, trade in services, e-commerce, intellectual property rights," said the Department of Trade and Industry (dti).

In a statement following the two-day meeting in Shanghai, the dti said the key objective is to promote a better understanding of the regulatory framework, share best practices and promote practical cooperation with a view to enhance trade and investment.

Trade and  Minister Rob Davies said cooperation will be strengthened between the investment promotion agencies so as to promote exchange of information on investment facilitation measures to encourage peer learning.

Consideration will be given to organising investment promotion activities on the side-lines of the BRICS Summit with a view to enhance intra-BRICS investments. The summit will take place in China in September.

In the context of investment facilitation, Minister Davies elaborated on South Africa's approach to investment protection and dispute settlement, as embodied in the Protection of Investment Act.

The Minister indicated the role of Invest South Africa, the investment one stop shop at the Department of Trade and Industry in assisting investors in the country.

BRICS countries have also agreed to promote technical cooperation and capacity building, and BRICS cooperation in multilateral forums such as the World Trade Organization.

At the meeting, Minister Davies emphasised the need for practical cooperation among BRICS countries, rather than rule-making.

"Cooperation among BRICS countries must be underpinned by development and the need to promote inclusive growth," said Minister Davies, who also spoke of the need to promote complementary value-added trade so as to ensure that BRICS cooperation contributes to the industrial development agenda of its members.

"I believe that our cooperation must be underpinned by promotion of inclusive growth and job creation; technology transfer, technology development and the ability of BRICS countries to leverage the fourth industrial revolution," said the Minister.

South Africa will be chairing BRICS in 2018. Minister Davies emphasised the need to take stock of trade and investment related initiatives in the recent years and ensuring that there is follow-through on those.

SA's trade ties to BRICS
South Africa has strong and growing trade and investment ties with the other BRICS members, particularly China and India.

China has been South Africa's top ranking export destination, as well as import supplier since 2009. In 2016, intra-BRICS exports amounted to the equivalent of R4 trillion. China accounted for 40%, India for 27%, Russia for 16%, Brazil for 10%, and South Africa for 7% of this.

In 2016, South Africa's exports destined to BRICS countries amounted to R156 billion, while its imports from these four partners came to R273 billion.

In 2015/16, intra-BRICS investment amounted to R554 billion. South Africa received R34.5 billion from investors in these countries, while making investment there to the amount of R22.6 billion.

On the side-lines of the 7th BRICS Trade Ministers meeting, Minister Davies met with his Chinese counterpart Zhong Shan and agreed to enhance bilateral trade relations between the two countries, including promoting value-added trade.

The meeting began on Tuesday and concluded on Wednesday. Prior to the meeting Minister Davies participated in the Industry Ministers two-day meeting in Hangzhou, the capital of China's Zhejiang province at the weekend.

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