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Wednesday, June 29, 2022

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BRICS: Historic allies that appreciate the shared future and shared past

Published Jun 24, 2022


Buyile Matiwane

One of the foreign policy initiatives that will come to define the last two decades of our countries outlook and vision for the future is undoubtedly the BRICS agenda. A strategic

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alliance of likeminded countries defining not only a new order that would be more equitable, less hegemonic and more progressive in its agenda. It has been quite disheartening that BRICS hasn’t occupied the common place it once did in discussions and vision of the state over the last 3 years.

It came as a breath of fresh air to witness the opening of the BRICS Business Forum on Wednesday the 22nd of June.

BRICS Business Forum will be acutely poised to carry on the work of bridging trade various gaps, building understanding and ensuring a conducive business environment for all BRICS partners. With the advent of the Africa Free Trade Area and the potentiality of our own domestic environment, the Forum could not have come at a more opportune time.

The Forum naturally had to look at various questions that affect us the world over and give insights around how the Forum’s character and outlook. Some of those questions included

but were not limited to, “Where is the world headed: Peace or war? Progress or Regression? Openness or Isolation? Cooperation or Confrontation?” In responding to some of these

questions President Xi painted a hopeful picture for humanity if the can embrace and appreciate the necessity to work together and move from the corrosiveness of a unipolar hegemonic global structure to a multi- polar world in which all have a voice and a place in the future.

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For BRICS to remain an effective and progressive body though, it needs to rebuild trust amongst its members first and confront honestly any deviations in sentiment over the last five years that may have slowed the advancement of its progressive agenda. It was very pleasing to find that the fundamentals behind the establishment of BRICS seems to be consistent and that a vision of building partnerships and synergies that will ensure win- win

cooperation and look at innovative solutions to problems relative to the material condition seemed to be echoed loudly. There was also a strong emphasis on encouraging an environment of openness and cooperation. We have seen the nasty effects of some not promoting this culture of openness and cooperation recently with the ongoing war in Ukraine, when others could have chosen the creation of an environment conducive for negotiation and de-escalation, they opted to fuel tensions.

The BRICS Business Forum will present the opportunity for the development of value chains and act as a funnel to concentrate on the most significant opportunities for collaboration, partnerships and trade. At the summit President Xi expressed his wish that business leaders would use the Forum in order to build the BRICS partnership on New Industrial Revolution in strengthening cooperation on the digital economy, smart manufacturing, clean energy and low carbon technology.

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A key priority of the BRICS cooperation will remain the maintenance and advocacy for peace and stability in the world, this in recent times has been undermined by some holding on to Cold War mentalities and sentiments. President Xi highlighted that China was willing to work with BRICS countries in order to effectively promote the implementation of the Global Security Initiative and in turn to contribute to the creation of global peace and stability

BRICS will also be imbued with the advancement amongst BRICS partners of the Global Development Initiative in line with UN 2030 Agenda for sustainable development to provide a stronger and greener world. This may naturally create opportunities for our country which is currently grappling with energy scarcity and the need for green and sustainable alternatives. Energy and infrastructure are the bedrock of any economy that is going anywhere. We need to look at what resources may be availed through the forum in order to augment the unavoidable issues that are coming as a result of energy scarcity, ailing infrastructure and the unavoidable need for connectivity infrastructure. Time and again history has shown us that China is one of the only friends that have been able to put their money where their money if and funded a countless number of infrastructure projects across the continent.

To solidify the spirit of the engagement and that of the BRICS cooperation, President Xi delivered a speech titled “Keep Abreast of the Trend of the Times to Shape a Bright Future”. The speech and title highlight the need for Africa and the world over to connect towards the next era of our development. There is a lot of room in Africa to cultivate its path forward and work with historic allies that will not only appreciate the shared future that is to come but also the shared past we have come from. The forum must ensure that it that gives meaningful space for the cultivation of infrastructure and also maintain its stance on openness and inclusivity.

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Buyile Matiwane is the Deputy President of the South African Students Congress.

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