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    Russia’s President says South Africa joining Bric would give the country a bigger say in global affairs

    Published: 2010/12/23 06:38:46 AM 


    Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev. Photo: Reuters

    RUSSIA expects SA to join Bric — its alliance with Brazil, India and China — as early as next year to give Africa’s largest economy a bigger say in global affairs, President Dmitry Medvedev’s envoy to Africa, Alexei Vasiliev, said yesterday.

    SA stands to benefit from the potential preferential trade pacts and economic co-operation agreements that could be concluded with Bric countries.

    These four emerging markets with a combined population of 2,5-billion people share between them an estimated annual gross domestic product (GDP) of more than 9-trillion .

    Brazil recently invited South African companies with expertise to bid for tenders to construct stadiums and airports in preparation for the Soccer World Cup in 2014.

    Russia recently won the right to host the global soccer showpiece in 2018.

    SA’s joining this bloc is in line with the country’s ambition to become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, with veto rights.

    China and Russia are permanent members of the Security Council. SA will join Brazil and India next month to serve a two- year stint as a nonpermanent member of the council.

    Brazil and India also harbour ambitions to become permanent members of the Security Council, with India’s candidature being endorsed last month by US President Barack Obama.

    Russia also endorsed India’s candidature on Tuesday.

    SA’s bid to become a member of Bric came under fire in October from certain quarters of the academic community.

    But Mills Soko, an associate professor of international political economy at the business school of the University of Cape Town, said SA should stop being "obsessed" with joining Bric.

    Mr Soko was of the view that SA would not benefit from lucrative trade deals as Bric countries were already making it difficult for South African companies to operate in their territories.

    His sentiments were shared by Razeen Sally, director of the Brussels-based European Centre for International Political Economy.

    Mr Sally said SA was a "third- tier" emerging market with a smaller economy and the country was unlikely to be accepted as a member of the bloc.

    But Mr Vasiliev said in an interview in Moscow yesterday: "We can assume that SA will formally become a member of Bric." Mr Vasiliev accompanied Mr Medvedev last year when the Kremlin leader made his first official visit to Africa.

    SA formally asked in February to be admitted to the Bric bloc, which held its first summit in June last year in Yekaterinburg near the Ural Mountains.

    Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said this month that SA should join Bric because of its strategic importance rather than its size.

    Goldman Sachs Asset Management chairman Jim O’Neill coined the term "Bric" in 2001 to describe the four countries whose joint economic output would, he estimated, equal that of the US by the year 2020.

    Mr Medvedev said last month that the Bric group had reacted positively to SA’s request to join.

    Bric leaders are due to meet in Beijing next year for their third summit. President Jacob Zuma has lobbied for closer political and trade ties with Bric countries since he came to power last year.

    SA’s gross domestic product of 286bn is less than a quarter of Russia’s, the smallest economy in the alliance.

    Its population of 50-million is also dwarfed by China’s 1,3-billion, India’s 1,2-billion, Brazil’s 191- million and Russia’s 142-million.

    "SA represents a third or a quarter of the continent’s entire GDP," Mr Vasiliev said.

    "It’s a powerful country, though of course it’s not comparable in size to other Bric countries." With Bloomberg

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