Author: Melanie Peters
Fuzhou – The Brics alliance is not a "silver bullet" to South Africa's current financial woes, warned deputy secretary general of the ANC Jessie Duarte at a press conference at a Brics forum held in Fuzhou, capital of southeast China's Fujian Province. The two-day forum, which concluded on Monday, drew more than 400 participants from political parties, think tanks and non-governmental organisations from Brics and other developing countries.
Brics is the acronym for an association of five major emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
Duarte said the country would continue to seek "new trade relationships".
"We would continue to look for new trade partners as well as continue with our involvement in Brics."
She said the country's recession was due to high unemployment, the Western economic downturn and the work of the country's old colonial masters.
Duarte also spoke at the closing ceremony of the Brics Political Parties, Think-tanks and Civil Society Organisations Forum. This year's theme is "Pooling wisdom and efforts towards common development and a brighter future".
Duarte said the forum was extremely valuable, well organised and a great success.
"It enabled these three components from developing countries... to pull together. Political parties and academics, with fresh ideas and even allowed for criticism of old ideas. We are open to that, this is the ethos of Brics. We also had an opportunity to interact with civil society and learn how they see development... to talk about the realities of development, how that development could be supported."
She encouraged the Brics nations to put people first as they developed trade relationships. "Our people need basic services, work and for us to grow our economies. We will not emulate what we do not want. Let us create, what the Chinese Communist Party call the new norm for the world, one we can live with, one we can examine, one which we can criticise.
"If there is an issue we don't want, we can change it. There is no one among us who will say change is not possible. We are a gathering of progressive people."
She said Brics was born out of "how we were treated as developing countries and emerging economies" by western counterparts.
"In another constellation they look at monetary value not human value. Let us look at human value. Trade gives us the initiative to implement what we really need to do in our various countries."
But she cautioned that it was not one-size fits all. "No everything will be fit for everyone. One initiative that South Africa does believe we should look at positively is the Belt and Road initiative. It can work for some of us."
South Africa will be hosting the forum next year. "We will use the year to examine our progress… It is important to grow the family and add new voices."
Addressing the closing ceremony, Song Tao, head of the International Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, said Brics political parties, think tanks and non-governmental organisations should facilitate co-operation that would elevate the five nations to their role as advocates for new global governance and forerunners of new South-South co-operation.
"Brics should promote the Belt and Road Initiative, to inject new vitality to Brics co-operation," he said.
China hoped to work with other Brics countries and developing countries, Song said.
The objective of the forum was to cover groundwork and raise pertinent issues ahead of the Brics Summit which will be hosted in Xiamen at the beginning of September.
The forum comes as developing countries are increasingly faced with challenges in a world economy which is sluggish, terrorism, anti-globalisation sentiments from the West grow stronger, as does populism and protectionism.
The three groups – political parties, academics and civil society organisations – drew up the Fuzhou Initiative which was declared and released at the ceremony. Its recommendations will be submitted to the Brics Summit in Xiamen.
The document said it would help "successfully usher in the second decade for Brics co-operation".
In the initiative, attendees vowed to intensify policy communication, expand cooperation, and work more with other emerging markets and developing countries.
Brics should boost political, cultural and security cooperation, have its voice heard on major international and regional issues, improve cyber security cooperation, enhance sharing intelligence and experience in countering terrorism, and jointly work toward combating extremism, separatism, narcotics, piracy and organised crimes, according to the document.- Additional reporting Xinhau