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BRICS serve as 'beacon' of progress

By MO JINGXI | China Daily | Updated: 2022-06-23 07:57
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South Africa sees the BRICS grouping of nations as a beacon of peaceful cooperation in a world facing challenges arising from the pandemic and conflicts to a global economy coming under increasing pressure, the country's top envoy to China said ahead of the 14th BRICS Summit.

Siyabonga Cyprian Cwele, South African ambassador to China

The summit, to be hosted on Thursday by President Xi Jinping, will be held virtually on the theme "Foster High-quality BRICS Partnership, Usher in a New Era for Global Development".

"BRICS is an important forum where issues of importance to the developing world are discussed, notably the global economic and financial architectures, including its leadership," Siyabonga Cyprian Cwele, the South African ambassador to China, said in a written interview with China Daily.

The world is very interested in this platform because it is evolving and resulting in diverse nations cooperating in an unpredictable global environment, he said.

The grouping has its origins in a diplomatic initiative in 2006 when the foreign ministers of Brazil, Russia, India and China met for the first time on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. The then BRIC nations welcomed South Africa as a member in 2011, with the enlarged grouping adopting the term BRICS.

The BRICS countries, comprising more than 40 percent of the world's population, produce 24 percent of global GDP and account for 16 percent of world trade, data from the World Bank shows.

Cwele said that over the years the BRICS countries have elevated their rankings in a range of economic gauges and expanded all-round cooperation, particularly in the economic and trade sectors. These efforts have yielded substantial results over the past decade, he said.

Cwele said that it is important that the grouping "continues to address the key developmental challenges of poverty, underdevelopment and inequality, which have been relegated to the margins by most in the developed North".

Critical challenge

The fact that China has pulled its people out of extreme poverty and achieved the UN Sustainable Development Goals 10 years ahead of schedule serves as an inspiration to those developing countries that are still trying to deal with this critical challenge, he said.

"We believe that BRICS has a profound appreciation of the urgency with which global challenges need to be addressed, in particular now that the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed down trajectories of the global economic growth," he said.

Cwele said that intra-BRICS cooperation will focus more on what he called the epic fight against the pandemic, and that the member countries are also deliberating how to strengthen macroeconomic policy coordination and jointly stabilize the global industrial supply chains.

In addition to hosting the summit, President Xi will also host the High-level Dialogue on Global Development in Beijing on Friday. The leaders of the BRICS nations, along with those of other developing countries, will participate in the event online. Xi first put forward the Global Development Initiative when addressing the general debate of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly via video link in September.

The GDI, which is consistent with the UN's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, aims to foster greater synergies in areas such as poverty reduction, food security, anti-pandemic efforts, development financing, climate change, digital economy and industrialization in nations' pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals.

"The free-flow of ideas and the significance placed on consensus by BRICS members in all areas of cooperation is how the platform has maintained its vibrancy," Cwele said.

He said that all initiatives that enrich the platform and improve its effectiveness have historically been welcomed into the platform, including the BRICS Outreach program initiated by South Africa.

"We expect our efforts will leverage not only our combined economic strengths and influence as BRICS, but also our partnerships with other emerging market and developing economies, to drive sustainable economic recovery including through industrialization and ensuring diversification across the world," he said.

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