SA President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses 10th BRICS summit in Johannesburg. PHOTO: BRICS via Twitter.

JOHANNESBURG - BRICS countries are increasingly recognised as an influential formation in reinforcing the principles of transparency, inclusiveness and compatibility within the multilateral trading system, but have much scope to expand the value of trade amongst themselves, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Wednesday.

Ramaphosa told the 10th summit of the group which also includes Brazil, Russia, India and China that the agreement to establish the African Continental Free Trade Area, which provides access to a market of over 1 billion people and a combined GDP of over $3 trillion, presented opportunities for BRICS countries, some of whom had extensive experience in infrastructure development and were leaders in education and skills development.

"Intra-BRICS cooperation has been gaining momentum in areas such as finance, agriculture, trade, combating transnational crime, science and technology, health, education, security and academic dialogue," Ramaphosa said.

But while trade among the BRICS partners had expanded exponentially over the last 10 years, member countries needed to advance to a new level of industrial cooperation, he added.

Ramaphosa cited one of the most important achievements of the first decade of BRICS as the establishment of the New Development Bank, which filled a critical gap in project funding.

"Since its formation, the bank has disbursed loans totaling $5.1 billion, with approvals amounting to $1.7 billion this year alone," he said.

"As we enter the second decade of BRICS cooperation, we are determined to expand the Bank’s role in economic and social development."

Ramaphosa said as a country that primarily exported commodities to its BRICS partners, South Africa supported a shift towards complementary and value-added trade.

"Linked to the trade agenda, we need to increase investment between BRICS countries, particularly in the productive sectors of our economy," he said.

Echoing sentiments already expressed by several delegates, including Chinese President Xi Jinping and South African Trade and Industry minister Rob Davies, Ramaphosa said he was concerned by the rise in unilateral measures that were incompatible with World Trade Organization rules.

"These developments call for thorough discussion on the role of trade in promoting sustainable development and inclusive growth," he said.

-African News Agency (ANA)