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Forum tasks BRICS nations on African trade

Delegates at the just-ended BRICS Africa Export Import Forum in Johannesburg, South Africa, have agreed that BRICS nations must cash in on the vast untapped invest opportunities in Africa and use the BRICS arrangement to unlock the opportunities available.

The decision was reached at the forum which rounded off Tuesday.

The forum was held as part of efforts to rectify Africa’s inter-trade statistics, which hover at around 11 percent of total trade, compared to Europe’s levels of around 70 percent.

It was organised to link businesses with a desire to expand their operations to the rest of the African continent and also within the recently established BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) nations.

Stephen Oehley, Director at South African Trade Promotions, responsible for the BRICS Africa portfolio, said BRIC countries were large industrialised countries with vast populations all showing significant middle class growth.

“These four countries with massive foreign reserves are spending huge sums of money to build infrastructure and to increase domestic consumption,” he said.

Oehley said South African businesses have dialled down their risk appetite for new investments in the past few months, judging by the high stock-piles of cash that they are sitting on and perhaps as a reaction to the current global economic environment.

“The African Free Trade Agreement (FTA) covering, as it does, three regional economic communities, the Common Market for East and Southern Africa, the East African Community and the Southern African Development Community, presents an ideal opportunity for innovative South African and indeed African entrepreneurial leaders to start looking into how they can tap into this extraordinary growth, export and trading opportunity,” says Oehley.

In its submission, Proudly South African said it believes there is room for the African Union to consider a “Proudly African” initiative to promote intra-trade on the continent.

“As sons and daughters of the soil of Africa, we support all efforts geared towards enhancing unity, growth and renewal in Africa. We must never, and can never, operate in isolation. What happens in the rest of Africa affects us and therefore we must support efforts to stimulate Africa’s developmental agenda,” said Proudly South Africa Chief Executive Officer Leslie Sedibe.

“We also call on all South Africans to support the government’s continued commitment to the political and socio-economic development of Africa, along with the AU’s goals and objectives,” he said.

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