BRICS trade performance, focusing on South Africa

BRICS trade performance, focusing on South Africa

The Industrial Development Corporation’s Research and Information department has released a report entitled BRICS trade performance, focusing on South Africa.

The BRICS forum was formed in 2011 with the aim of encouraging commercial, political and cultural cooperation amongst its member countries – namely, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Through greater cooperation, the BRICS also seek to influence and/or reform global governance and economic relations.

The combined exports of the BRICS to the world at large reached USD3.2 trillion in 2012, from USD494 billion in 2001. Their overall imports amounted to USD2.8 trillion last year, compared to USD417 billion in 2001. China is clearly the largest trading member of the BRICS, with a 62.5% share of the BRICS aggregate trade (exports plus imports) with the world in 2012. The BRICS share of world exports grew from a mere 8% in 2001 to 17% by 2012 and the composition of its collective export basket has also changed significantly over time.

South Africa’s trade with other BRICS countries has expanded substantially since the beginning of the 21st century, with the expansion having been particularly impressive in the case of China and, to a lesser extent, India. Nevertheless, South Africa’s export baskets destined for these two Asian countries is highly concentrated and dominated by a few mineral commodities, principally iron ores and concentrates, as well as coal products. Trade with Brazil falls short of the deemed potential, with the challenge being partly related to the relatively similar composition of the two countries’ export baskets. Nonetheless, the export basket destined for Brazil is relatively diversified, including minerals, chemicals and other manufactured products. Trade with Russia is quite negligible, but the export basket is, nevertheless, dominated by trucks and motor vehicles for the transportation of goods.

BRICS membership does present a wide array of opportunities in terms of global positioning; developmental collaboration; market access; inward and outward investment; financial capital flows; technology transfer and technical cooperation; skills development; and tourism flows, among others.

Various challenges currently prevent this potential from being fully realised, with hurdles standing in the way of trade development including bureaucratic procedures, regulations and standards, import protection, as well as public sector procurement criteria, among others. However, some of these challenges could be effectively overcome through robust intent and commensurate endeavours by all BRICS members.

For the full report, click here.