BRICS leaders kick off summit in South Africa with economic forum

Johannesburg, Aug 22 (EFE).- The bloc of major emerging economies BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – on Tuesday kicked off its 15th leaders’ summit in Johannesburg with an economic forum, to be attended by the leaders of the member nations.

The leaders’ economic forum is set to kick off at 4 pm at the Sandton Convention Center, situated in the city’s financial district and heavily guarded by the police with a massive deployment of officers.

The event will be attended by Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, China’s Xi Jinping, and host South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa, apart from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to participate via videoconferencing due to an arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court against him over alleged war crimes during the Ukraine War.

If Putin – who will be represented in the summit by his foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov – had landed in Johannesburg, South Africa would have been forced to arrest him as a member of the ICC.

On Wednesday, the leaders would meet for a plenary session to discuss issues such as the expansion of the bloc.

According to the South African government – which had joined the bloc in 2010 in its first expansion and currently holds its rotating presidency – around 40 countries have expressed interest in joining the club.

South Africa’s ambassador-at-large for BRICS, Anil Sooklal, said on Tuesday that the bloc’s expansion had been widely discussed in the public domain this year and the leaders were expected to decide on this issue, which would have a significant impact not just on BRICS, but also “the Global South and the global community at large.”

The group is also expected to discuss the de-dollarization of their economies – using local currencies to trade with each other instead of the dollar – a stance backed by the New Development Bank, established by BRICS in 2015.

The dollar has grown stronger compared to currencies of the emerging economies since Russia invaded Ukraine and the United States’ Federal Reserve began to increase key interest rates to check inflation in early 2022, a decision which resulted in dollar-debt becoming more costly for these nations.

However, a common BRICS currency, an initiative that Lula has backed enthusiastically, does not figure on the agenda according to the organizers.

On Thursday, when the summit is set to end, the venue will host the Friends of BRICS Leaders Dialogue, in which leaders of the group will exchange ideas with their counterparts from other countries.

South Africa has invited 67 leaders of the Global South to the summit, including Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel, Bolivia’s Luis Arce and Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Twenty dignitaries from international organizations, such as the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres and the Chairman of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, have also been invited to the event.

African leaders are expected to be present at the summit in numbers in the context of the summit’s motto: “BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development and Inclusive Multilateralism.”

Brazil, Russia, India and China had established the bloc BRIC in 2006, which was joined by South Africa in 2010, adding the letter S to the acronym.

The bloc represents more than 42 percent of the world’s population and 30 percent of its territory, apart from accounting for 23 percent of the global GDP and 18 percent of global trade. EFE


Related Articles

Back to top button