All eyes are on Johannesburg for the 2018 BRICS summit, as the likes of Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, and Narendra Modi take their places at the table. It marks the tenth annual gathering for this international organization of the leading emerging economies. So what can we expect?
The summit of the BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, China, India and South Africa – started in June 2009 at Yekaterinburg, when Russia hosted the leaders of this bloc, though it did not originally include South Africa. BRIC became a formal institution the following year, aimed at facilitating global political and economic transformation, and South Africa officially joined in 2011.
“BRICS in Africa: Collaboration for Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity in the 4th Industrial Revolution”.
The theme is intended to align and ensure strategic continuity with the approved themes for South Africa’s Chairship of both the South African Development Community (SADC) and the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA).
The new areas of BRICS cooperation as proposed by South Africa, are as follows:
- Establishment of a Working Group on Peacekeeping.
- Establishment of a Vaccine Research Centre for Collaboration with BRICS vaccine innovation and development partners – this is intended to be a physics research center focused on research and development and vaccine innovation.
- Establishment of a BRICS Gender and Women’s Forum – intended as a dedicated track for gender and women’s issues, given the economic benefit to be derived from the socio-economic empowerment of women, particularly in developing countries.
- Establishment of a BRICS Tourism Track of Cooperation.
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 has 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.