World leaders to engage in talks as first day of BRICS Summit kicks off in Johannesburg

BRICS branding at the Sandton Convention Centre as part of the 15th BRICS Summit. Picture: GCIS

BRICS branding at the Sandton Convention Centre as part of the 15th BRICS Summit. Picture: GCIS

Published Aug 22, 2023


The much-anticipated 15th BRICS Summit will officially kick off on Tuesday with world leaders expected to engage in meaningful talks aimed at strengthening the trade bloc.

This will also be an opportunity for Brazil, Russia, China, India and South African leaders to receive the finer details around the interest shown by over 23 countries who seek to join the BRICS family.

On Monday, Brazilian President Lula Da Silva as well as Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in South Africa ahead of the three-day Summit.

International Relations and Cooperation Minister Dr Naledi Pandor welcomes Brazilian leader Lula Da Silva ahead of the BRICS Summit. Picture: GCIS
President Cyril Ramaphosa welcomes Chinese President Xi Jinping at OR Tambo International Airport. Picture: GCIS

Indian Prime Minister Nerendra Modi is set to have already departed India and making his way to South African shores. It was unclear by Tuesday morning what time he would arrive.

Up to 46 heads of states including African leaders such as Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera and Cameroon Prime Minister, Dr Joseph Dion Ngut have already arrived.

United Nation secretary-general António Guterres has also confirmed his attendance.

Russian leader Vladmir Putin is expected to participate virtually with his joint opening remarks being televised.

The Summit comes amid growing calls for the emergence of a single currency and the de-dollarisation in the trade sector with many looking to develop emerging economies in a bid to ensure that they are not left out.

The first day day of the Summit will see South African Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel lead talks at the BRICS Business Forum.

Meanwhile the ANC in a statement said the BRICS bloc “represents a great opportunity to increase economic output”.

“For example, China and India collectively contributed up to 14 percent of total exports in 2022. One of the fastest-growing customers of South Africa's exports was India in 2022, up 20.2 percent from 2021,” it said.

Recognising these stats, we also see BRICS as an opportunity to improve our trade deficits with the respective BRICS partners by improving our manufacturing and industrialisation capabilities to enable increased exports of beneficiated products to their markets.”

It further hoped that the Summit will bolster much-needed tourism activity in the country, adding that the mooted expansion of the bloc would be beneficial to various sectors across SA.

“The expansion of the BRICS working groups to include mining, industrialisation, infrastructure expansion of least developed nations, health, and the just energy transition will offer opportunities to deepen cooperation,” it said.

“These are critical areas for attaining sustainable development and a significant opportunity for the bloc to demonstrate its resolve and capability.”

On Monday, South Africa’s Police Minister, Bheki Cele indicated that the police force had beefed up security, stating that they were leaving nothing to chance.

Over 40 heads of state, scores of government representatives, as well as local and international dignitaries are expected to join summit delegates.