Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies (centre) speaks during a specially convened investment session on Sunday at the BRICS Business Council meeting. PHOTO: Motshwari Mofokeng / ANA Pictures

DURBAN - South Africa’s Trade and Industry Minister, Dr Rob Davies, told participants at a Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa (BRICS) business meeting that partner nations should focus on investment-led trade, “instead of it being the other way around”.

Davies was speaking at a specially convened investment session on Sunday during the BRICS Business Council meeting being held at the Chief Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre (ICC) in Durban.

“In this global environment, we need to play catch-up on the investment front. We need investment-led trade instead of the other way around,” he said.

The biggest recent news on the African continent, he said, was the establishment of the African Free Trade Agreement. 

“We are a signatory to the framework but there is still lots of work to be done to make it commercially viable,” said Davies.

South Africa signed on to the agreement in early July, about three months after a number of other African countries had done so.

Davies said it was important to not only increase trade on the continent, but to ensure quality of trade. When it came to regional integration, “our approach must be developmental,” he said.

 “Regional integration must be complemented by regional infrastructure development. This is where the BRICS New Development Bank comes in. We have a significant backlog that has to be addressed.”

He said countries were entering a period of turbulence in the global trading system. The United States was increasing tariffs in violation of many trade agreements to favour certain nations, which did not assist the global economy.

New technologies were happening in the context of a world with huge levels of inequality where there was a “winner takes all” attitude. The outlook in BRICS was different, he said.

“We don’t want masters, we want an inclusive roll-out of new technologies that will create better lives for the citizens of the world. BRICS is an important institution in that connection.”

South Africa was working hard to address policy uncertainties, added Davies. “Since president Cyril Ramaphosa has taken over, there has been a commitment to clean up the challenges facing the country.”

The country was addressing uncertainties in the renewable energy sector and had removed “blockages” caused by lack of action. “There is scope for investment now”.

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African News Agency (ANA)