President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on his Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRICS) counterparts to strengthen trade and investment ties,to fast-track economic recovery post the COVID-19 pandemic.
The President’s call comes as the BRICS virtual summit took place on Tuesday, coinciding with the start of the South Africa Investment Conference in Johannesburg.
“We call on our BRICS partners to ramp up investment in not just South Africa but across the continent, particularly in the manufacturing sector.
“Investors from the BRIC countries will realise considerable benefits by investing in Africa, particularly with the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area from January 2021,” he said.
The third SA Investment Conference is a platform to share with investors the progress South Africa has made in economic reforms and to showcase the country’s potential as an investment destination.
While African leaders acted swiftly to contain COVID-19, Ramaphosa called on the international community and the BRICS partners to support a comprehensive stimulus package for African countries.
“This will enable African countries to contain the disease and rebuild our damaged economies,” said the President. The New Development Bank has a significant role to play.
“To date, the bank has approved $4 billion of COVID-related emergency assistance projects, including $1 billion to South Africa to support our health response and social relief measures,” he said.
Ramaphosa welcomed the indications from the New Development Bank that it aims to provide up to $10 billion in crisis-related assistance and to support economic recovery efforts.
In light of the battle of the COVID-19 pandemic and the search for a vaccine,Ramaphosa said this year’s experience has demonstrated the need to accelerate the establishment of the BRICS Vaccine Research and Development Centre in South Africa, as agreed in the 2018 Johannesburg Declaration.
“We support the initiative to establish an integrated early warning system for preventing mass infectious diseases, and believe this is a project that could be supported by the New Development Bank.
“Investing in science, technology and innovation will not only prepare us for future health emergencies, but it will also enable us to confront other global challenges,” said the President.
At the summit, South Africa also reiterated its call for multilateralism.
“It is clear from this pandemic, that we must strengthen multilateralism as the preferred means to advance our mutual interests.
“We reiterate our call for reform of the UN Security Council to ensure that it is more representative and inclusive, in line with the principle of the sovereign equality of all states,” said Ramaphosa.
With respect to development through industrialisation,Ramaphosa said countries must ensure that trade rules take the interests of developing countries into account.
In this regard, the President said reform of the World Trade Organisation is key to rebalancing the global trading system and ensuring that its benefits are shared more equitably.
As resolved in the 2019 Brasilia Declaration, Ramaphosa urged for continued collaboration through the BRICS partnership to address the problem of under-invoicing, which has a profound impact on industrial development and employment goals.
“Our meeting today – in the midst of economic and social turmoil – is evidence that our partnership is strong and enduring.
“Working together, let us continue our onward march towards shared peace, security and prosperity, not only for our respective countries, but for all of humanity,” said the President.