South Africa


SA letting the BRICS side down, report finds

SA letting the BRICS side down, report finds
From left: President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa, Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro attend the BRICS dome session in Brasilia, 14 November 2019. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Joedson Alves)

South Africa ranks only fourth of the five BRICS countries in its level of compliance with the commitments it made at the last summit of the forum in Johannesburg last year.

The BRICS Research Group, a Canada and Russia-based NGO, issued its latest compliance report to coincide with this year’s BRICS summit which has been taking place in Brasilia this week.

The BRICS Research Group has been monitoring the compliance of the members of the group with their summit commitments for several years.

Overall, it gave the give members a “solid” 85% average score for their compliance over the past 15 months with 10 key commitments — out of the total of 73 — they made at the Johannesburg summit in July 2018.

It said this showed an improvement on the 79% compliance with the commitments made at the 2017 BRICS summit in Xiamen, China.

Full compliance was achieved on four issues, relating to health, taxation, energy and the macroeconomic issue of global value chains (up from three in the interim report). The commitments on jobs and financial market integration achieved 90% compliance, and crime and corruption had compliance of 80%. The commitment on regional security achieved the lowest score of 40% (up from 20% in the interim report).”

China achieved the highest compliance score of 95%, followed by India with 90%, Russia with 85%, South Africa with 80% and Brazil with 75%.

The report said at the Johannesburg summit, the BRICS leaders had focused on the theme of BRICS in Africa. The theme of the summit was “BRICS in Africa: Collaboration for Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity in the Fourth Industrial Revolution”.

The BRICS leaders focused on reinforcing the current multilateral framework and voiced their support for multilateralism in a number of commitments. The declaration also focused on BRICS co-operation in peace and security, particularly in regional security issues related to Syria, Afghanistan and North Korea.

In the economic sphere, BRICS leaders made several commitments for economic co-operation, with a focus on ICT, skills development, open trade and the digital economy. In terms of development, BRICS leaders focused on infrastructure development in Africa, in particular with respect to addressing the infrastructure financing deficit. In addition, the leaders agreed to co-operate in areas such as quota review for the International Monetary Fund, international currency, anti-corruption and international taxation.”

The 10 key commitments which the BRICS Research Group selected for assessing the compliance of the BRICS governments were:

  1. Trade — Multilateral trading system: “We, therefore, agree to constructively engage in further developing the current legal framework of the multilateral trading system within the WTO, taking into consideration the concerns and interests of all WTO members”;
  2. Jobs — Fourth Industrial Revolution: “We strongly acknowledge that skills development is critical to addressing the emerging mismatch between the new skills demanded by an increasingly technology- and knowledge-driven global economy and the older skill set of many workers. The pace, scale and scope of present-day economic change make it that [much] more challenging. In this regard, we support measures including policy recommendations proposed in the G20 Initiative to Promote Quality Apprenticeship and the BRICS Action Plan for Poverty Alleviation and Reduction through Skills, to further facilitate vocational training, lifelong learning and the training that is relevant to the fast-changing demand of growing economies and world of work”;
  3. Crime and corruption— Extradition and asset recovery: “Subject to our domestic legal systems we will co-operate in anti-corruption law enforcement, extradition of fugitives, economic and corruption offenders and repatriation in matters relating to assets recovery and other related criminal and non-criminal matters involving corruption”;
  4. Development — Infrastructure in Africa: “We therefore reaffirm our support for sustainable infrastructure development in Africa, including addressing the infrastructure financing deficit”;
  5. Health — vaccines: “We commit to strengthening the co-ordination and co-operation on vaccine research and development within BRICS countries”;
  6. Tax — Base erosion and profit shifting: [We will continue our commitment to] … ensure the fairness of the international tax system particularly towards the prevention of base erosion and shifting of profits”;
  7. Financial regulation — Market integration: “We reaffirm our commitment to facilitate financial market integration through promoting the network of financial institutions and the coverage of financial services within BRICS countries, subject to each country’s existing regulatory framework and WTO GATS obligations”;
  8. Energy — Source supply diversification: “We reaffirm that the diversification of energy supply sources, including renewable and low carbon energy sources, investments in energy and energy infrastructure, energy industry and market development and intra-BRICS collaboration for access to primary energy sources will continue to underpin our energy security”;
  9. Macroeconomic policy — Global value chains: “We encourage measures that support greater participation, value addition and upward mobility in Global Value Chains for our firms, particularly in industry and agriculture, especially Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), including through the preservation of policy space to promote industrial development”; and
  10. Regional security: Syria: “We reaffirm our commitment for a political resolution of the conflict in Syria, through an inclusive ‘Syrian-led, Syrian-owned’ political process that safeguards the state sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Syria, in pursuance of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254 (2015) and taking into account the result of the Congress of the Syrian National Dialogue in Sochi.”

The BRICS Research Group said the five BRICS nations achieved 100% compliance with their commitments on health (vaccines research), international taxation (BEPS implementation), energy (diversification of supply sources) and macroeconomic policy (global value chains).

They achieved 90% compliance with their commitments on jobs (Fourth Industrial Revolution) and financial regulation (market integration); 80% for their commitments on trade (developing multilateral trading system) and crime and corruption (extradition and asset recovery); 70% for their commitments on development (infrastructure in Africa); and only 40% for their commitments on regional security (Syria).

The BRICS Research Group is a joint project between the Centre for International Institutions Research (CIIR) of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration in Moscow and the Global Governance Programme at Trinity College at the University of Toronto. DM


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