President Cyril Ramaphosa accounts to the nation on the work of government during his response to Questions for Oral Reply in the National Assembly in Parliament, Cape Town. Picture: Elmond Jiyane/GCIS.

Parliament - President Cyril Ramaphosa has praised South Africa’s partnership with BRICS as opening opportunities for the country’s economy.

Ramaphosa was answering questions in the National Assembly, where he was grilled by MPs on various issues including the country’s relations with BRICS.

Ramaphosa said: “The BRICS partnership offers South Africa significant opportunities to expand and diversify our trade, to attract investment and to develop our economic infrastructure.

“Against the backdrop of unilateral measures taken by some developed countries to protect their domestic industries, BRICS countries are forging ahead with initiatives to expand intra-BRICS trade and investment,” said Ramaphosa.

South Africa hosted the 10th BRICS summit in Johannesburg earlier this year which saw multi-billion dollar commitments undertaken by China, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Ramaphosa said South Africa would use is China’s International Import Export in Shanghai to expand the basket of products exported to China.

“The BRICS countries have reaffirmed their commitment to work together to shape a multilateral trading system that supports industrialisation and economic diversification.

“The BRICS countries constitute an important global voice in support of a rules based, transparent and inclusive multilateral trading system that promotes a predictable trade environment and the centrality of the WTO,” said Ramaphosa

Ramaphosa said there was an agreement between BRICS states that developing countries would secure a share in the growth of world trade that matches their needs for economic development.

“Trade between South Africa and its BRICS partners has grown from $28 billion to $35 billion over the last decade. Combined, the BRICS countries account for 15% of South Africa’s exports, and 25% of the country’s imports.

“With a combined GDP of approximately $15 trillion, BRICS countries account for around 20% of gross global product, over 40% of the world population, and have collectively contributed more than half of world economic growth during the last 10 years,” said Ramaphosa.

He also took the opportunity to slam critics who alleged that China was exploiting South Africa in its relation. Ramaphosa said they were not “selling” the country to China, as suggested by IFP MP Mkhuleko Hlengwa.

“We always act to promote our country’s interest in everything we do. When we deal with various countries, it is to protect our national interest. China has not displayed imperialist tendencies. We are wide awake and we know an imperialist when we see one,” said Ramaphosa.

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