An article by: Francesco Lovati

The BRICS countries account for a quarter of the economy, a fifth of trade, and 40% of the population of the world

The 15th BRICS meeting has opened in Johannesburg (South Africa). The guests are being received by the President of this country, Cyril Ramaphosa, who, in his opening speech, touched upon all the sensitive issues for the alliance of developing economies, which have now become world powers, representing a fifth of world trade.

“The BRICS group of countries exists not only to strengthen relations between governments, but also to create closer ties between the peoples of our five countries,” the President of South Africa said in his inaugural speech. “It is for this reason that various bodies have been created to ensure social cooperation. BRICS Business Council is a vital and dynamic platform for strengthening economic ties between our countries and shaping common prospects for economic growth and inclusive development. The changes that have taken place in the BRICS economies over the past decade have helped reshape the global economy. The combined BRICS countries make up a quarter of the global economy, account for one-fifth of global trade, and are home to more than 40% of the world’s population. As we celebrate the 15th anniversary of BRICS, trade between the BRICS countries last year was estimated at $162 billion. Foreign investment has played an important role in the growth of the BRICS economies. The total annual volume of foreign direct investment in the BRICS countries is four times higher than 20 years ago.”

We need a fundamental reform of global financial institutions

Multipolar economy

Ramaphosa has pointed to protectionism and unilateral measures imposed by the West and, more generally, has called for an inclusive and multilateral economy, emphasizing the importance of the New Development Bank established by the BRICS countries.

“The new wave of protectionism and the resulting impact of unilateral measures inconsistent with WTO rules are undermining economic growth and global development. Therefore, we must reaffirm our position that economic growth has to be supported by transparency and inclusiveness. It should be compatible with the multilateral trading system that supports the development agenda. We need a fundamental reform of global financial institutions, so that they could be more flexible and responsive to the challenges faced by emerging economies. In this regard, the New Development Bank established by the BRICS countries in 2015 is at the forefront. Since its inception, it has demonstrated its unlimited ability to mobilize resources for infrastructure and sustainable development in emerging economies. The BRICS economies have become powerful drivers of global growth. However, the ongoing rapid economic, technological, and social changes pose new risks to employment, equality, and poverty issues in many BRICS countries. Therefore, we call on the business community to join us in finding solutions to these and other problems that affect our countries’ economies.”

African countries have made it clear that the preferred investors are those who will develop the resources here, close to the source

BRICS And Africa

Africa will play a fundamental role in this progress: the continent’s potential is still largely untapped.

“From the South Africa’s standpoint, a huge untapped investment potential exists in our country and on the African continent. In recognition of this potential, the topic of the 15th BRICS Summit is ‘BRICS and Africa: a partnership for mutual growth acceleration, sustainable development, and inclusive multilateralism.’ Africa is a continent that offers great opportunities for the process of industrialization in various sectors. Africa is a continent, rich in critical minerals that will contribute to business success in the 21st century. The continent has resources of lithium, vanadium, cobalt, platinum, palladium, nickel, copper, rare earth minerals, rhodium, and many others. African countries have made it clear that the preferred investors are those who will develop resources here, close to the source. We are developing stronger regional value chains that will connect different African countries and offer investors diversity, strength, and resilience. The African Continental Free Trade Area is creating a single market that is projected to grow to 1.7 billion people by 2030 and generate nearly $7 trillion in consumer and business spending. The success of the African Free Trade Area will require huge investments in infrastructure. We must mobilize the huge funds needed to build the roads, ports, railroads, energy, and telecommunications networks that will provide industrialization and trade. Economic growth in African countries will be ensured primarily by small and medium-sized enterprises. This requires targeted and effective support for these enterprises. It is important that specific funding be directed to women-owned businesses so that they can take advantage of the Continental Free Trade Area. Africa has a young, digitally connected, and urbanizing population that will provide a stable workforce for companies in the future. Investment in skills development is on the rise. All these factors make Africa the new frontier of productivity and growth. The BRICS countries have the opportunity to contribute and take part in the history of Africa’s growth. This goal can be achieved through increased cooperation in areas such as infrastructure, agriculture, manufacturing, new energy, and digital economy.”


Francesco Lovati