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Putin in South Africa for BRICS summit

26 July 2018 at 18:50 | 1576 views

By Kester Klomegah

Russian President Vladimir Putin, currently in South Africa for the BRICS summit, has reiterated the significant efforts by the member states to consolidate cooperation and dialogues in key multifaceted areas including those relating to member states, regional and international arena.

Putin said the BRICS group is faced with lot of tasks, challenges and opportunities to address in subsequent years and these have been documented in all previous declarations.He however expressed Russia’s readiness to actively support the priorities of the chairmanship.

The 2018 BRICS summit is hosted under the theme “BRICS in Africa: Collaboration for Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity in the 4th Industrial Revolution” and the theme means that the BRICS countries are increasingly at the forefront of driving technological advances. The leaders will review BRICS’ first ten years and discuss future cooperation including prospects of the group’s expansion.

“That is, the BRICS leaders will exchange views on possible expansion processes, engagement of new participants, and so on. There are no plans to make decisions on the matter, but it appears to me the discussion itself will be interesting enough,” Kremlin Aide on Foreign Policy, Yury Ushakov, said in Moscow.

The summit involves an expanded-format. In 2013, when South Africa first hosted a BRICS summit, it invited a number of African leaders. This year, the leaders of Angola, the Congo, Ethiopia, Gabon, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe were invited.

“Apart from the Africans, the leaders of a number of countries presiding in major sectoral and regional associations have also been invited. These are Argentina, as the country presiding in G20, Turkey, as the country presiding in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and Jamaica, which is leading the Caribbean Community this year,” Ushakov informed.

According to Kremlin sources, Putin will travel with a sizable entourage which includes, at least, twelve (12) of his most senior ministers including Foreign Affairs Minister Sergey Lavrov. Putin last went to South Africa in March 2013 during the fifth BRICS summit in Durban.

As this researcher and author of this article gathered, besides participating in official BRICS summit, Putin will hold several sidelined bilateral meetings with representatives from foreign countries and African Union (AU).

He will meet South African leader, Cyril Ramaphosa, the newest face among BRICS Heads of State, exclusively for Russia-South African bilateral talks. As expected, strategies to strengthen economic and political ties between the two countries is on the top of the agenda. At the BRICS Business Council, Igor Shuvalov, Head of VEB (Vnesheconombank), will lead about 20 corporate business directors to the meeting to discuss business among BRICS countries.

South Africa will hold the BRICS-Africa outreach dialogue on the summit fringes. Importantly, the BRICS-Africa outreach will discuss the recently launched African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).

Russia stands for strengthening the BRICS countries’ partnership in politics, the economy, culture and other areas. During the previous BRICS summits, Russia has consistently proposed a number of new initiatives that are being implemented. Among them, for instance, are:

- Russia’s initiative a BRICS Strategy for Economic Partnership was adopted at the Ufa Summit in 2015 and is being successfully implemented.

- Russia’s initiative on the establishment of a BRICS Energy Research Platform.

- Another priority is to build up our cooperation in the area of small and medium-sized enterprises (SME)

- Russia is advocating the Women and the Economy public-private dialogue. This initiative provides for holding regular debates by members of the BRICS countries’ business and expert communities, women’s associations and government agencies.

- Russia is currently pushing for the establishment of BRICS Women’s Club.

“Russia’s initiatives are gaining support among others. There are other important, interesting and promising undertakings. I am confident that this association will work effectively in the future,” Putin emphatically pointed out, adding that the summit would help boost multifaceted cooperation and dialogue between BRICS member states and Africa.

The BRICS member countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) collectively represent about 26% of the world’s geographic area and are home to 2.88 billion people, about 42% of the world’s population.

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