President Cyril Ramaphosa Picture: GCIS
JOHANNESBURG - President Cyril Ramaphosa yesterday called on BRICS countries to come up with policies that would support local industries - particularly small, medium and macro enterprises - in the face of protectionism led by the the world’s biggest economy, the US.

Ramaphosa said BRICS needed to form partnerships to translate the vision of the second decade of union into reality through deepened co-operation on industrialisation, innovation, inclusiveness and investment.

He said the group needed to make full use of its New Development Bank to protect its industries from the tariffs that have been imposed by the US.

“Under the partnership, and in support of the manufacturing sector, a new industrial revolution advisory group comprising policymakers and experts from all BRICS countries will be established,” said Ramaphosa.

“It is against this backdrop that BRICS ministers of industry resolved to establish the BRICS partnership on the new industrial revolution.”

Earlier, Chinese President Xi Jinping continued his criticism of US President Trump’s tariff regime, charging that the escalation of protectionism and unilateralism would have dire consequences for emerging markets.

Xi also called for dialogue to settle disputes on global trade, underlining remarks he made at the opening of the summit the previous day when urging rejection of unilateralism in the wake of the tariff threats.

Xi said the world had to push back against the protectionism through multinationals such as the UN and the World Trade Organisation.

Approve

Yesterday, New Development Bank (NDB) president Kundapur Vaman Kamath told the BRICS meeting in Johannesburg that the bank would approve a total of $7.5billion worth of infrastructure projects by the end of 2018.

Kamath said the bank would support a range of diversified financed projects from renewable energy to support for ecosystems.

“By the end of this year we expect total approvals to reach $7.5bn,” Kamath said.

“Thus far the NDB has approved 23 projects worth $5.7bn to our member countries. Their projects now go beyond the core renewable energy sectors that we earlier focused on into areas such as rural ecosystems, restoration of water supply, particularly in rural areas.”

The New Development Bank was established by BRICS in July 2014 to finance infrastructure and sustainable development projects both in the bloc and other developing countries.

Yesterday, South Africa signed a number of agreements with BRICS on areas spanning agriculture, strategic partnerships, water resources and environment, saying most would be funded by the NDB.

The deals, which are expected to run into hundreds of billions of rand, include co-operation in the field of agriculture and water resources with Russia and China, the world's largest nation.

BRICS leaders also signed a declaration supporting an open and inclusive multilateral trading system as envisaged by the World Trade Organisation in the wake of a trade war between the US and China, and Donald Trump’s protectionist stance on imports.

Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said the country signed agreements on areas such as the implementation of environmental projects.

Molewa said BRICS countries would use shared technologies in addressing the problem and greening their economies.

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Senzeni Zokwana, said he signed a deal with his Chinese counterpart. He said the Chinese wanted to build an ago-machinery maintenance plant in Pretoria. South Africa, on the other hand, would supply the Asian superpower with lucerne, he said.

-BUSINESS REPORT