BRICS: Partners of BRICS

The fifth meeting of the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) held in Durban, South Africa, from March 26 to 27, 2013, was seen as an opportunity for Africa to strengthen its ties with these major emerging economies. The theme of the summit was “BRICS and Africa – partnerships for integration and industrialization” with the goal to unlock potential for cooperation between the BRICS and Africa. In fact, Africa has demonstrated huge potential in terms of economic development prospects, abundant natural resources, growing consumer power and favourable demographics. The emergence of the BRICS as major global players has raised hope that a win-win partnership could foster the development of the continent.

In recent years, the BRICS have expanded their involvement in Africa. Their share in foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows and trade volume has surged rapidly. For instance, trade volume between China and Africa increased from US $10 billion in 2000 to US $190 billion in 2012. The partnership between India and Africa, for instance, has significantly promoted the development of small- and medium-scale enterprises on the continent. Meanwhile, Brazil and Russia have been heavily involved in the mining and energy industry in Africa through public-private partnerships.

BRICS engagement with Africa

The BRICS are now Africa’s largest trading partners with trade expected to reach more than US $500 billion by 2015, with 60 per cent from China. The BRICS are also becoming significant investors in Africa, especially in the manufacturing and service sectors. With respect to foreign direct investment, BRICS countries have strengthened their presence on the continent compared with traditional partners, such as the U.S. and Europe. In 2010, for example, the BRICS’ share in FDI inward stock and FDI inflows to Africa reached 14 per cent and 25 per cent, respectively. The share of BRICS countries in the total value of African greenfield projects reached 25 per cent in 2012 compared with 19 per cent in 2003. Trade between the BRICS and Africa rose to as much as US $340 billion in 2012 –10 times higher than the value recorded in 2002 . Currently, the BRICS trade more with Africa than they do among themselves.

Main motivations of the BRICS countries’ engagement in Africa

The reasons behind BRICS countries’ involvement in Africa include their appetite for the continent’s natural resources, Africa’s large and untapped agricultural sector as well as the opportunity for investments and transfer of technology and knowledge targeting the growing middle class which is estimated to include more than 300 million people.

BRICS has engaged with various countries and international organizations, both as partners and observers, to expand its influence and cooperation. Some notable partners of BRICS include:

  1. BRICS Plus: This term refers to the outreach efforts of BRICS countries to include other developing and emerging economies in their discussions and initiatives. While not formal members of BRICS, these countries participate in BRICS summits and meetings as guests or observers.
  2. Guest invitees: BRICS summits often invite leaders from other countries to participate as guests. These guest invitees may represent countries with close ties to BRICS members or those that BRICS seeks to engage with strategically.
  3. Outreach dialogues: BRICS hosts outreach dialogues with various regional groupings and international organizations to enhance cooperation and exchange views on global issues. For example, BRICS has held outreach dialogues with the African Union, the Eurasian Economic Union, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and others.
  4. Multilateral organizations: BRICS collaborates with multilateral institutions such as the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organization to advocate for reforms in global governance and promote the interests of emerging economies.
  5. Bilateral partnerships: BRICS countries also engage in bilateral partnerships with each other and with other countries outside the BRICS framework. These partnerships cover various areas, including trade, investment, technology, and cultural exchange.

Overall, BRICS seeks to strengthen its partnerships with other countries and international organizations to promote mutual understanding, solidarity, and cooperation on global issues.