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By: Emily Bowman
The BRICS nations – Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa – met for their Fifth BRICS Summit in Durban, South Africa on March 26 and 27.
BRICS represents a collaboration of the five strongest up-and-coming economies in the 21st Century. Experts predict that these transitional economies will overtake the world’s current financial leaders in the next 20 years.
This is the last in the first cycle of BRICS summits held since 2009. Leaders of the BRICS nations meet at these summits annually. “These summits are convened to seek common ground on areas of importance for these major economies,” according to the Fifth BRICS Summit’s official website. “Talks represent spheres of political and entrepreneurial coordination, in which member countries have identified several business opportunities, economic complementarities and areas of cooperation.”
The title of this summit was “BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Development, Integration and Industrialization.” The aims for this summit were to analyze opportunities and options for BRICS nations to become more involved in the African economy, specifically development and industrialization.
Discussions on this topic culminated into the BRICS: eThekwini Declaration, which outlines BRICS projected efforts in working with the African economy.
“Within the framework of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), we support African countries in their industrialization process through stimulating foreign direct investment, knowledge exchange, capacity-building and diversification of imports from Africa…We will seek to stimulate infrastructure investment on the basis of mutual benefit to support industrial development, job-creation, skills development, food and nutrition security and poverty eradication and sustainable development in Africa,” reads Article Five of the Declaration.
At the same time, civil society activists from all over sub-Sahara Africa held a shadow summit called “BRICS-from-below” in downtown Durban. South Africa correspondent Pascal Fletcher covered the alternative protest meeting for Reuters. Citizens of African nations, including community and political leaders, are opposed to BRICS pointed interest in widening their economic involved in Africa.
BRICS presents their partnership with African economies as “benevolent South-South cooperation,” an alternative to the traditional power of Western markets.
However, many view the BRICS partnership as neo-imperialism. In fact, the South African publication, Financial Mail, recently published an editorial speculating that the main reason why Brazil, Russia, India, and China invited South Africa to join their alliance in 2010 was to establish a foothold in the continent.
In the past decade, BRICS corporations have acquired multi-billion dollar oil and mineral deals across sub-Sahara Africa. Many BRICS-Africa deals are for rights to raw material extraction—the same industry that European powers developed in the 20th Century.
Rights groups accuse BRICS of touting personal interests as development “aid,” no different than the histories of Western economic policy.
BRICS leaders hosted a retreat for African leaders following the Summit called “Unlocking Africa’s potential: BRICS and Africa Cooperation on Infrastructure.” The purpose was to negotiate stronger economic cooperation between BRICS and African nations.
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