South Africaˇ¦s Trade and Industry Minister, Rob Davies, has urged fellow
BRICS countries to strengthen and deepen their relations in a time when the
worldˇ¦s trading systems are in turbulence.
ˇ§It is no secret. We are
living in a time of enormous turbulence and crisis for the global
multilateral system. We need to strengthen and deepen our relations,ˇ¨ said
Minister Davies on Wednesday, 25 July 2018.
Speaking at the BRICS ([Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa)
Business Forum Opening Session at the Sandton Convention Centre, Minister
Davies said the current environment posed an enormous challenge.
ˇ§What weˇ¦ve seen is a number of stronger economies, particularly one,
showing great scepticism to the multilateral trading system, which is not
good for any of us. We are in the midst of trade wars ˇV South Africa is not
a major protagonist [but is hit by] collateral damage,ˇ¨ said Minister
The Minister was referring to the United States (US) decision to impose
Section 232 steel and aluminium tariff duties. US President Donald Trump
signed proclamations granting permanent country exemptions to a select
number of countries and extended by one month the Section 232 steel and
aluminium tariff duty exemptions for some.
The proclamation followed the 8 March proclamation signed by President Trump
to impose a 10% ad valorem tariff on imports of aluminium articles and a 25%
ad valorem tariff on imports of steel articles. This excluded select
countries, namely: Canada, Mexico, the European Union, South Korea,
Australia, Argentina and Brazil.
At Wednesdayˇ¦s session that brought together captains of industry and
government officials, among others, Minister Davies said South Africa was
not given exemption from the tariffs, adding that the US decision was
affecting the country.
ˇ§Institutions like BRICS become very important to promote investment-led
trade,ˇ¨ he said, adding that the bloc should work on identifying
complementarities with one another.
He said that last monthˇ¦s trade ministers meeting identified complementary
trade as a future mechanism among the BRICS countries.
Minister Davies said it was important for South Africa to move from
exporting primary products as the technology revolution unfolded.
He said BRICS countries, which accounted for more than a third of the
worldˇ¦s population, should invest more in each other.
ˇ§In the recent past, BRICS countries have been a disproportional source of
global economic growth,ˇ¨ he said.
South Africa as the only African member of the bloc is also keen on helping
to bring about development on the continent.
Integrating the African continent
ˇ§As South Africa, we have taken important steps forward to promote
integration, beyond regional economies and move towards integrating the
continent as a whole,ˇ¨ he told those gathered at the session.
Minister Davies said South Africa, as like other countries, was in the
process of preparing to ratify the recently signed African Free Trade Area
South Africa, he said, was not only seeking to increase trade with the
continent, which was paltry, but that it wanted regional value chains to
industrialise the continent.
ˇ§We need to support investment in other countries,ˇ¨ he said, adding that
South Arica believes in the path of investment and trade.
As a form of facilitating investment, South Africa has set up Invest SA One
Stop Shops to assist investors.
ˇ§Our approach has been that we will offer investment basic guarantees
through the One Stop Shop,ˇ¨ he said.
Progress made by Business Council
Meanwhile, South Africa is pleased with progress made by the BRICS Business
Council, which will present its annual report to Heads of State on Thursday,
26 July 2018.
Chair of the Business Council, Dr Iqbal Survé, said the trade barriers had
led to much anxiety but that since the inception in 2013, the council had
made several achievements. These include the Memorandum of Understanding
with the Development Bank on closer cooperation that was signed in 2017 as
well as the e-commerce platform to service BRICS countries.
The recent sixth meeting, which was held in Durban, was attended by over 400
delegates from all BRICS countries.
This, said Dr Survé, was the largest gathering in the history of the bloc,
adding that trade barriers not only killed business but were harmful to
The long-term key recommendations made by the council include making
provisions for long term visas and harmonising the recognition of
qualification among BRICS countries.
He urged BRICS countries to roll back red tape and roll out the red carpet
ˇV Source: SAnews.gov.za