President Cyril Ramaphosa
President Michel Temer
President Vladimir Putin
Prime Minister Narendra Modi
President Xi Jinping
The Council and members of the BRICS Business Council
Mr Kamath, President and members of the New Development Bank
Our Political Leadership
Members of the Diplomatic Community
Government Officials for the BRICS countries
I am delighted to report on the 6th BRICS Business Council Annual Meeting which was held in Durban, South Africa on 22 and 23 July 2018. The meeting was attended by over 400 representatives from the
business communities of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, as well as representatives from strategic partners such as the New Development Bank. As the principle meeting of the business community within BRICS, the holding of an Annual Meeting, is one of the key annual deliverables of the BRICS Business Council. Another key deliverable is the production of the Annual Report which captures the achievements, ongoing work and recommendations of the Council to the Heads of State of the five BRICS countries.
During its deliberations at our Annual Meeting, the BRICS Business Council recognised the achievements and progress the Council had made over the past year and analysed the opportunities and challenges facing the emerging economies. The five BRICS countries reinforced their ongoing commitment and agreed on the importance of ensuring greater economic, trade and investment ties amongst the BRICS countries. It is important to note that what underpins this cooperation is the commitment to serve our countries, in the interest of creating a better life for all. This was place front and centre in the remarks made by the two Presidents, who addressed the BRICS Business Forum yesterday, President Ramaphosa and President Xi Jinping. We are here to serve first and foremost, and to creating, through our collaboration within the BRICS framework a more inclusive, multi-polar world order. The three major focus areas identified during South Africa’s BRICS Business Council’s rotating chairmanship were:
1. Youth – Fostering Entrepreneurship
2. The Digital Economy – Skills Development for the 4th Industrial Revolution
3. Agriculture and Food Security
These core themes were advanced in the Annual Meeting through the continued deliberation on the establishment of a BRICS Seed Bank, as well as a presentation on youth entrepreneurship.
The theme of the Digital economy – Skills Development for the 4th Industrial Revolution was underscored through the Skills Development Working Group launching its Future Skills Challenge on July 21, in Durban, on the eve of the Annual Meeting. The 2018 2nd BRICS Skills Challenge is scheduled to take place between the 28 September and October 2018 in Johannesburg.
A special session on Investment Opportunities in South Africa, was incorporated into the programme with contributions made by Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies, the Presidential Envoys on Investment, Jacko Maree and Phumzile Langeni, and Mr Xian Zhu, Vice President and COO of the New Development Bank. The following BRICS Business Council initiatives were discussed at length: ‒ The Establishment of the BRICS Credit Rating Agency; ‒ The New International Payment System; and ‒ Memorandum for supporting Forest Certification It was expected that these initiatives would be signed during the Annual Meeting. However, the need for ongoing, additional consultation with the
relevant stakeholders in the BRICS members countries was identified before finalisation could be reached. The discussions were robust and significant progress was made. As a result, we have indicated in the Annual Report, post its publication, that agreement was not reached at the Annual Meeting.
The Digital Economy Working Group, established at the Mid-Term meeting as the 9th Working Group, in March 2018, met for the first time in South Africa during the Annual Meeting. During their deliberations they focused on enhancing the complementarity of industries and fostering innovative economic development based on advanced technology and skills. The strategic partnership between the BRICS Business Council and the New Development Bank, was reinforced through the co-hosted, Working Breakfast, addressed by two VPs of the NDB, Mr Xian Zhu and Mr Leslie Maasdorp; and the Chairs of all the Council Chapters. The emphasis was on practical collaboration, especially to identify bankable projects across the BRICS countries, an objective which we are committed to achieving. During our deliberations, the practical implementation of the MOU signed between during the NDB and BRICS Business Council was emphasised.
During the plenary session, the Council reviewed the major work and achievements during South Africa’s presidency in 2018 and listened to the reports presented by the nine working groups, on energy and the green economy, financial services, deregulation, manufacturing, infrastructure, agribusiness, skills development, regional aviation and the digital economy.
A proposal made to the BRICS Business Council, arising from deliberations from the 2018 BRICS Youth Summit, was to consider th establishment of a Youth Working Group, as the 10th Working Group of the Council. The presentation was made by the CEO of the National Youth Development Agency, Mr Waseem Carrim, who indicated that a detailed proposal would be submitted to the Council by the end of July. The proposal of establishing a working group was well received, with the Council advising that it would review and deliberate on the detailed proposal.
In addition to the announcement of the launch of the Skills Challenge by the Skills Development Working Group, two Working Group events hosted events in the last two weeks – the Infrastructure Working Group launched the BRICS Africa Infrastructure Portal, with a view to listing projects within the BRICS Plus countries which would be attractive to investors. The Energy and Green Economy Working Group held an Energy Dialogue, and the recommendations around the establishment of a BRICS Energy Centre and proposed Energy Fund are included in the Annual Report.
The significance of the establishment of the BRICS Business Women’s Alliance. As is known, the proposal was first made during the 2017 5th BRICS Business Council Annual Meeting in Shangai and at our Mid-Term meeting in March, the Council view was supportive of its formation. We are hopeful that this will be resolved during South Africa’s presidency of BRICS with alignment between the Council and their respective authorities.
Since its inception at the 5th BRICS Summit held in Durban, South Africa, in March 2013, the BRICS Business Council has been instrumental in fostering the BRICS spirit of mutual respect and understanding, equality, solidarity and cooperation, which are an inexhaustible source of strength in forging a more inclusive world economy. This annual meeting reinforced our commitment and we have emerged reenergised to continue in this trajectory.
I thank you,