BRICS: Tariff barriers, non-tariff measures and regulatory complexities are main stumbling blocks to trade and investment

The bloc now seeks to strengthen trade ties with each other as well as increase investment thereby aiding economic growth.

The bloc now seeks to strengthen trade ties with each other as well as increase investment thereby aiding economic growth.

Published Aug 24, 2023


The BRICS Business Council has identified tariff barriers, non-tariff measures and regulatory complexities as the main stumbling blocks that prevent the full realisation of trade and investment among these emerging economies.

Tabling the group’s annual report yesterday, global chair of BRICS Business Council Busi Mabuza read out an agreed joint statement on trade and investment.

Mabuza said the statement was a testament to the bloc’s commitment to reducing barriers, improving trade facilitation and promoting investments among the BRICS nations.

She said through this agreement, they collectively pledged to drive trade and investment promotion, across all sectors, to contribute towards the fair-trade balance, and inclusive trade practices, while encouraging investment flows that benefit all BRICS economies.

“We have witnessed an upward trajectory in growth in trade volumes and investments among BRICS countries. However, we also recognise the challenges posed by tariff barriers, non-tariff measures, and regulatory complexities which hinder the full potential of our trade and investment capabilities,” Mabuza said.

“We agree that, looking ahead, the opportunity for intra-BRICS and BRIC-Africa investment remains promising.

“However, more effort is required to make investment a key driver of economic co-operation among the BRICS and BRIC-Africa, and to bring more benefits for sustainable and inclusive economic development in the bloc and promote industrialisation on the African continent.”

Together, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) represent over 42% of the global population, 30% of the world’s territory, 23% of gross domestic product and 18% of global trade.

The bloc now seeks to strengthen trade ties with each other, as well as increasing investment and so aiding economic growth.

The BRICS Business Council also signed an Intra Working Group MoU (memorandum of understanding) and Commercial MoU, which serve as critical instruments for enhancing co-ordination and co-operation within and among the respective countries’ business councils.

The Intra Working Group MOU will facilitate better collaboration among the working groups, ensuring efficient communication and exchange of ideas.

The Commercial MoU between South Africa and China’s development finance institutions will boost commercial ties, generate business opportunities and promote mutual growth between these two countries.

President Cyril Ramaphosa yesterday said there were great opportunities for other BRICS countries to participate in the African Continental Free Trade Area by locating production and services in various countries on the African continent, including South Africa, by partnering with local companies and entrepreneurs.

“Our objectives are reciprocal trade and investment. We want the goods, products and services from Africa to compete on an equal footing in the global economy,” Ramaphosa said.

“The African Continental Free Trade Area, once fully operational, will unlock the benefits of the continental market and generate mutually beneficial opportunities for both African and BRICS countries.”

On Tuesday, the inaugural chair of the BRICS Business Council, Patrice Motsepe, called for the fast-tracking the visa process for BRICS countries, saying business people who want to do business in these countries should be given preferential treatment.

‘’We understand that there are legitimate concerns about making sure that governments maintain the sovereign control of who comes in and who comes out,’’ Motsepe said.

‘’We don't just agree with that, we support it as well, but as these are some of the low-hanging fruit, we can immediately give preferential access to businessmen from China, India, Brazil, and from Russia, give them visas that allow them to come in and look at opportunities in South Africa, and on the continent.’’