The Brics member countries are home to almost 3 billion people or about 43 percent of the world’s population, according to a report from the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC).
The IDC puts the combined gross domestic product (GDP) of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa at $14.8 trillion (R150.3 trillion) and their external trade at $6 trillion or about 17 percent of the world total.
Of the five, China, Brazil and Russia had trade surpluses last year while South Africa and India were in the red, according to the report. China’s positive trade balance was $295.6 billion, Russia’s $208.6bn and Brazil’s $19.4bn. India and South Africa had deficits of $199.4bn and $14.9bn respectively.
China and India have been important destinations for South Africa’s exports over the past few years but Brazil and Russia barely figure in the data.
The report said China bought almost 12 percent of South Africa’s total exports last year and India 4 percent. Brazil accounted for 0.9 percent and Russia for just 0.5 percent.
South Africa’s exports to the two Asian nations are dominated by a few mineral commodities, according to the IDC: principally iron ore concentrates and coal products. However, South African-made cars have started making inroads into the rapidly growing Chinese market in the past three years, according to the IDC.
The UN Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) estimates that foreign direct investment (FDI) flows to the Brics more than tripled between 2002 and 2012 to $268bn, about 20 percent of the world’s FDI inflows.
Brics companies are now major investors with outward FDI rising from $7bn in 2000 to $126bn last year, according to Unctad. – Ethel Hazelhurst