Right now, the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa are meeting in Johannesburg for the annual Brics summit, an opportunity for the emerging economies to focus on a turbulent period ahead, where protective tariffs will buffet international trade. And while United States President Donald Trump has seemingly reached a deal with the European Union to avoid an all-out tariff confrontation between the bloc and his nation, the reality is that these Brics nations now face a business climate where goods from China have been hit with an initial €50 billion (Dh214 billion) in tariffs, and a further $500 billion (Dh1.83 trillion) in the works.
China is unique in this Brics group in that it has the world’s second-largest economy, has a proven record of both competing in the global marketplace and in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI), as well as investing in nations around the world. India, however, is still struggling to attract significant FDI and to modernise its economy and increase levels of productivity.
There is a reality that together, these Brics nations represent some 30 per cent of the world’s territory and its populations make up 41 per cent of all those living on this planet, yet control only 18 per cent of global trade. Together, their economies are worth 23 per cent of global gross domestic product. But take China out of the mix, and all of the economic figures fall significantly. The reality then is to ensure that India, Brazil and South Africa must win Chinese favour and opportunities to help their own economies grow. For South Africa in particular, economic growth remains sluggish, a key challenge facing the host and new President Cyril Ramaphosa.