BRICS is an acronym for the grouping of the world’s leading emerging economies, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
The BRICS Leaders’ Summit is convened annually with discussions representing spheres of political and socio-economic coordination, in which member countries have identified several business opportunities, economic complementarities and areas of cooperation.
The Chairship of the forum is rotated annually among the members, in accordance with the acronym B-R-I-C-S. Over and above the summit, BRICS cooperation in the past decade has expanded to include an annual programme of over 100 sectoral meetings. Cooperation among members is predicated on three levels or “tracks” of interaction, namely:
Track I: Formal diplomatic engagement between the national governments
Track II: Engagement through government-affiliated institutions, e.g. state-owned enterprises and business councils
Track III: Civil society and “people-to-people” engagement.
The first BRIC Summit took place in 2009 in the Russian Federation and focused on issues such as reform of the global financial architecture. South Africa was invited to join BRIC in December 2010, after which the group adopted the acronym BRICS. Former South African President Jacob Zuma subsequently attended the Third BRICS Summit in Sanya, China, in March 2011.
The BRICS approach is informed by the need to deepen, broaden and intensify relations within the grouping and among the individual countries for more sustainable, equitable and mutually beneficial development. This approach takes into consideration each member’s growth, development and poverty objectives to ensure relations are built on the respective country’s economic strengths and to avoid competition where possible.
The bloc offers a unique opportunity for BRICS countries to extend and advance their cooperation in ways that meaningfully promote their economic development agendas as well as that of other developing countries.
South Africa assumed the rotational Chairship of BRICS from 1 January to 31 December 2018. The 2018 Summit will be a seminal milestone for BRICS cooperation, as it represents a decade of BRICS cooperation at the highest diplomatic level.