On 4-5 September, leaders from BRICS countries will gather in the beautiful Chinese coastal city Xiamen for the 9th BRICS Summit. Together, the five BRICS countries account for 26.46% of world land area and 42.58% of world population. As a cooperative mechanism that represents progressive and emerging powers of the international community, the BRICS has transformed itself through the past ten years of development from a humble beginning to what is now a powerful force to drive the modernization of the global governance regime.
Over the past ten years, the economic aggregate of the BRICS has increased from 12% to 23% of the world economy. The share of the BRICS trade in the global total has increased from 11% to 16%, and that of foreign investment from 7% to 12%. The BRICS together contribute to more than half to the world economic growth, exceeding the contribution of all developed countries combined. BRICS countries account for 13.24% of World Bank voting power and 14.91% of IMF quota shares. Trade and investment among the BRICS has registered substantial growth. For China alone, in the first half of this year, imports from other four BRICS countries grew by 33.6%, and imports from South Africa in particular grew by an impressive 35.4%, far exceeding the average imports growth rate in the same period.
Over the past ten years, BRICS countries have maintained close coordination in the United Nations, G20 and other major multilateral fora. Working together, BRICS countries have effectively upheld the leading role of the United Nations and the authority of international law in international affairs. In the face of hot-spot issues and global challenges such as terrorism and climate change, BRICS countries have contributed “BRICS wisdom” and “BRICS solutions”, protecting and ensuring the common interests of all developing countries. Under the current international situation filled with entangled turmoil, BRICS countries have transcended the old pattern of political and military alliance and established new relations of partnership instead of alliances. BRICS countries have surpassed the old notion of drawing lines according to ideology and taken a new path of mutual respect and common progress. BRICS countries have surpassed the old mindset of zero-sum game and undertaken a new concept of mutual benefit and win-win cooperation.
Over the past ten years, BRICS cooperation is driven forward by three wheels including political mutual trust, economic mutual benefit as well as people-to-people exchange and cultural mutual learning, and has achieved tangible progress in these fields. The New Development Bank founded by the BRICS is up and running and is estimated to have a total loan book of about $8 billion for approximately 35 projects by the end of 2018. The $100 billion BRICS Contingency Reserve Fund is already in place and stands ready to support BRICS members in case of liquidity pressure. During the 7th BRICS Trade Ministers Meeting in Shanghai in early August, the BRICS reached important consensus on expanding trade in services, and e-commerce cooperation, and adopted the Outlines for BRICS Investment Facilitation, which is the first special document approved in the field of global investment facilitation.
South Africa joined the BRICS in 2010. Since then, the BRICS has associated itself with Africa, the continent with the largest number of developing countries. With South Africa, the BRICS has become more representative geographically and more complete in its substance, and has gained more extensive social basis and stronger support among the public. South Africa has made positive and important contribution to the unity, cooperation and institutional development of the BRICS. And today, South Africa stands as an important bridge connecting the BRICS and Africa in development cooperation. Through responding actively to Africa’s aspirations for addressing climate change, realizing sustainable development, and combating terrorism, BRICS countries have united strongly to uphold our common interests. During the G20 Hangzhou Summit in 2016, together with South Africa and other BRICS countries, China came forward with the Action Plan on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It was for the first time that the G20 adopted collective action to support the industrialization of Africa and the least developed countries. During the recently concluded G20 Hamburg Summit, the BRICS again called on the G20 to follow the consensus of the Hangzhou Summit with regard to the improvement of peace and development in Africa. On 17 August, during the official launch of the Africa Regional Center of the New Development Bank in Johannesburg, the NDB announced that it will approve $1.5 billion loan to South Africa in 18 months. As the first regional center of the NDB, its launch will definitely inject new momentum into the development of South Africa and the rest of Africa. Moving forward, BRICS cooperation will surely make greater contribution to the development of South Africa and Africa, and will help activate even more international cooperation with Africa, creating more opportunities for Africa to realize independent sustainable development.
The establishment and development of BRICS cooperation conforms to the trend of the times, and is an inevitable result of the modernization of the global governance regime. For many, BRICS cooperation remains a relatively fresh idea. And for the people who are still trapped in the Cold War mentality, it is only natural that they will not understand BRICS cooperation, and still less do they want to see the BRICS succeed, and therefore the never ending talks of the “BRICS fade” and “fruitless BRICS”. Admittedly, each and every BRICS country has its own development challenges as well as pursuit of interest. In some cases, there are even differences and conflicts. But these are absolutely normal situations among countries. What BRICS cooperation upholds is the idea of planning together, building together, and sharing together. What BRICS cooperation calls for is equal partnership. And What BRICS cooperation pursues is mutual benefit, win-win progress, and common development. BRICS cooperation will always benefit from its strong complementarity and huge potential, and will always serve the interests of the five BRICS member states and their peoples. As long as we uphold the BRICS spirit of openness, inclusiveness, cooperation, and win-win, the future of BRICS cooperation will definitely be closer and more productive. During the upcoming BRICS Xiamen Summit, under the theme of “BRICS: Stronger Partnership for a Brighter Future”, BRICS leaders will have in-depth exchange on ways to deepen practical cooperation, enhance global governance, expand people-to-people exchanges, and promote BRICS institutional improvements.
As South Africa celebrates the 100th anniversary of the world-renowned leader O.R. Tambo, BRICS cooperation could also draw inspiration and wisdom from the spirit of the great leader. We strongly believe that as we strengthen unity and commit ourselves to mutually beneficial cooperation, BRICS cooperation will take up renewed vigor and vitality and embrace another “Golden Decade”. Going forward, the BRICS will shine even more brightly to inspire and lead the developing countries towards stronger unity and greater prosperity.