South Africa Says Size Doesn't Matter in Joining BRIC
(Corrects the relative size of India’s economy to the other BRIC countries in fourth paragraph. The story originally ran on Dec. 15.)
South Africa should be a candidate to join the BRIC group of emerging economies along with Brazil, Russia, India and China because of its importance in Africa rather than its size, Trade Minister Rob Davies said.
South Africa, which has Africa’s biggest economy, has asked to join the group, Davies said in an interview in Johannesburg yesterday, declining to say if the proposal was accepted.
“Those countries are the dynamic forces of the world economy,” Davies said. “To be in a relationship with those countries, whether formal or not, is very important to South Africa.”
Since coming to power in May last year, President Jacob Zuma has made state visits to the BRIC nations to lobby for stronger political and trade ties. South Africa’s economy, at $286 billion, and its population of 49 million are dwarfed by those of the other group members. India, the second-smallest of the BRIC economies with a gross domestic product of $1.3 trillion, according to World Bank data, has a population of 1.2 billion.
“I don’t think they set criteria such as size of population,” Davies said. “These are systemically important countries. We are a systemically important country in an important continent.”
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Nov. 12 that the BRIC group had reacted positively to South Africa’s request to join. BRIC leaders are due to meet in Beijing next year for their third summit.
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. economist Jim O’Neill coined the BRIC term in 2001 to describe the four nations that he estimates will collectively equal the U.S. in economic size by 2020. O’Neill said at a conference in November that South Africa was too small to be included in the BRIC group, Reuters reported on Dec. 13.
At their first summit in Russia in June last year, the BRIC heads of state called for emerging economies to have a greater voice in international financial institutions and for a more diversified global monetary system.
South Africa is already a member of the trilateral group, India-Brazil-South Africa, known by its acronym IBSA, which was created in 2003 to coordinate action between the three emerging economies in global forums.
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