Johannesburg - The South African and Chinese governments on Tuesday afternoon expressed their satisfaction that the establishment of the development bank of the Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa (BRICS) bloc was at an advanced stage.
The bank was established to fund infrastructure development projects in which the member states are involved, and to reduce their reliance on Western-dominated finance institutions like the International Monetary Fund.
International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane told journalists on Tuesday that the South African government was in the final stages of ratifying the establishment of the bank.
Nkoana-Mashabane was briefing journalists after a bilateral meeting with her Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi, who expressed his country’s financial and infrastructure support for South Africa and the African continent’s industrialisation projects.
“South Africa has been chosen as the regional centre for the development bank of Brics, and we are at the final stages of the ratification of the establishment of the bank.
“We are also at the advanced stages of the currency swap mechanism. We are almost done on the establishment of the clearing centre for the Chinese currency (Yuan) so that we can have a direct exchange between the rand and the Yuan.
“This is one of the few areas in the world where this mechanism has been fast-tracked in the manner that we have done,” she said.
According to Nkoana-Mashabane, the central banks of both countries were both hard at work in finalising the processes, while Cabinet would finalise the appointment of the bank’s vice-president.
“Through Cabinet, South Africa must select and appoint the vice-president of the development bank, so things are at a very advanced stage,” she said.
The ratification of the establishment of the bank will pave the way for a contribution of $ 10 billion by the South African government and each of the Brics member states, which will result in an opening budget of $50 billion for the bank.
The bank is expected to start lending money in 2016.
Wang Yi said China was committed to lending its support to industrialisation projects in South Africa and the rest of the African continent.
According to Wang Yi, the continent’s public health system was one of the main areas where the Chinese were already investing money and resources for the benefit of Africans.
“The outbreak of Ebola showed that China is ready to assist Africa with such challenges. The Chinese government was among the first to help.
“The Ebola crisis reminded us that the continent’s public health system could not wait any longer for assistance and the international community has to step in now.
"Currently, we have more than 1000 medical personnel in 42 countries in Africa,” said Wang Yi.
South Africa and China have strong trade relations, with China becoming South Africa’s single largest trading partner in the world, and South Africa becoming China’s largest trading partner on the African continent.
Two-way trade between the two countries amounted to R262 billion in 2014.