Tuesday, March 26, 2013

BRICS Is Critical For Developing Nations

ANC: Brics is critical for developing nations

The Brics summit will play a critical role in defining the future of developing nations, the ANC has said.

25 Mar 2013 18:33 - Sapa

"These gatherings are critical in redefining the collective future of the developing nations at a time when the world is constantly threatened by a possible collapse of established economies," African National Congress spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said in a statement on Monday.

He said the summit's outcome and the scheduled meeting between the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) leaders and certain African heads of state would be instructive on the consolidation of trade within Brics and the African Union.

The ANC welcomed the Brics leaders and the African leaders to the summit.

On Tuesday, the fifth Brics summit will begin in Durban. This is the first Brics summit to take place on African soil.

Meanwhile, trade unionists have welcomed the idea of a Brics development bank, but said on Monday it should not function the same way as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

The proposed Brics Bank "should ... primarily be developmental in character", they stated in a declaration released by the Second Brics Trade Union Forum in Durban on Monday.

The leaders of the five Brics nations are expected to sign an agreement on Wednesday formally setting up the proposed bank.

Brics Development Bank

"We envisage the Brics Development Bank solely owned by Brics, publicly funded, taking all decisions on consensus, promoting trade based on own currencies of its member countries, with a core focus on infrastructure and development in consultation and approval by all stakeholders, inclusive of the community and trade unions," the trade unionists said in the declaration.

Trade unions should be represented at the highest levels, they said.

South African trade union representatives, including the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the Federation of Unions of South Africa, and representatives of the other four Brics nations, met in Durban at the weekend.

The declaration called for greater industrialisation among Brics members, and trade which benefited all the members of the grouping. – Sapa

Xi: 'China's approach to Africa is different from the West'

President Xi Jinping was due in Tanzania on Sunday at the start of a tour of Africa that underscores Beijing's growing presence on the continent.

24 Mar 2013 12:33 - AFP

Xi will visit Tanzania's economic capital Dar es Salaam, where he is set to give a keynote speech on relations with Africa, before heading to Durban on Monday to join a emerging economies summit.

He wraps up the African tour, part of his first overseas trip which started in Russia, with a visit to the Republic of Congo.

"China-Africa cooperation is comprehensive," Xi said ahead of his trip, adding that Beijing valued "friendly relationships with all African countries, no matter whether they are big or small, strong or weak, rich or poor".

"No matter whether it is rich or poor in resources, China treats it equally and actively carries out pragmatic cooperation that benefits both sides," he said.

China is the second-largest foreign investor in Tanzania, with interests in agriculture, coal, iron ore and infrastructure, and Xi will be keen "to showcase that China's approach to Africa is different from the West", said China expert Jonathan Holslag, head of research at the Brussels Institute of Contemporary China Studies.

"Tanzania offers Xi an important opportunity to highlight the historical dimension of the Sino-African relations. Today, China is reviving this partnership with Tanzania by investing heavily in its infrastructure" such as railways that could provide a vital link to Chinese-run mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Holslag said.

China's first contacts with Africa came with the sea voyages of Zheng He, a Chinese Muslim admiral who led expeditions to the East African coast in the 1400s, but little followed for centuries.

"Xi's decision to visit Tanzania first suggests that China is not merely interested in short-term economic gains, but that it is interested in developing long-lasting partnerships with African countries," said Frans-Paul Van der Putten, senior research fellow at The Netherlands Institute of International Relations.

China, which has risen to become the world's second-largest economy, sources many of its raw materials from Africa. A new Chinese diaspora has seen huge numbers of traders and small business operators establish themselves across the continent, which has higher growth rates than Europe or the United States.

Booming imports

Chinese imports from Africa soared 20-fold in a decade to reach $113-billion last year, according to Chinese government statistics, and China became the continent's largest trading partner in 2009. Highlighting the changing relationship, Beijing hosted a summit of 48 African leaders in 2006.

In South Africa, where two-way trade totalled $59.9-billion last year—nearly one-third of total China-Africa trade—Xi will also hold talks with President Jacob Zuma and join the leaders of Brazil, India, Russia and South Africa at the Brics summit.

China has lent the oil-rich DRC billions of dollars under a series of agreements, financing a 500km road linking the capital Brazzaville and commercial hub Pointe-Noire, a 120 megawatt hydroelectric dam and other projects.

A presidential source told AFP that Brazzaville considered Beijing an "essential partner" and their relationship "immaculate".

But China's presence in Africa has also been accompanied by periodic tensions.

Lamido Sanusi, governor of Nigeria's central bank, blasted China this month in an opinion piece in the Financial Times, saying the relationship was one in which Africa sold its resources for manufactured goods.

"This was also the essence of colonialism," he wrote. "The British went to Africa and India to secure raw materials and markets. Africa is now willingly opening itself up to a new form of imperialism."

China's vice foreign minister Zhai Jun, who estimated there are between one and two million Chinese entrepreneurs in Africa, acknowledged "growing pains" in the relationship, which he ascribed to causes including "lack of mutual understanding". - AFP

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