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BRICS cooperation to benefit Africa: expert

Updated: 2011-04-12 10:13
( Xinhua)

JOHANNESBURG - BRICS, a group of emerging economies, will change the global governance, and benefit Africa through deeper cooperation in broad areas, a South African expert said in a recent exclusive interview with Xinhua.

BRICS, the acronym for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, has been widely used as a symbol of the shift in global economic power away from the developed economies toward the developing world.

"The world has changed since the Cold War, and the infrastructure of global governance can not remain the same. BRICS members have become global players especially after the financial crisis in 2008," said Patrick Matlou, chief executive officer of Africa Institute of South Africa.

South Africa, formally invited to join BRIC at the end of 2010, is the largest economy in Africa, accounting for about a third of the total gross domestic product in sub-Saharan Africa. It is widely regarded as a gateway to the continent, he said.

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South Africa has established economic relations with all BRIC countries, particularly China and India, Matlou said, adding both Asian countries have "tremendously expanded their trade, investment and economic cooperation with different African countries over the past decade."

For example, the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) and the India-Africa Forum have played a constructive role in boosting the trade and economic relations between Africa and the two Asian countries, he said.

"Africa must get benefit from this relationship. In that sense, African countries should cooperate among themselves and to take advantage of some of the reduction in tariffs, while opening up markets of India and China," Matlou said.

With regard to the cooperation mechanism between BRICS members, Matlou highlighted three levels of cooperation.

"At the economic level, South Africa seeks to attract more foreign investment to the country. At the same time, South African companies are investing abroad, much of which go to India and China," he said, suggesting direct flights from Beijing to South Africa should be opened to boost tourism.

"At the sports level, South Africa has hosted the 2010 FIFA World Cup. I think there's a lot (of experience) that can contribute to both Russia and Brazil, which will host the 2014 and the 2018 FIFA World Cup respectively," he said, adding that China may also share its experience in hosting the 2008 Olympic Games with South Africa, as the latter is bidding for the 2020 Olympics.

"At the academic level, we should encourage joint research programs on how cooperation can move forward, how China brings poverty down, and why China and Brazil keep growing," he said.

Referring to the third BRICS summit to be held in China in mid-April, Matlou said BRICS countries should promote a culture of unity and cooperation, and coordinate their stance in issues such as global climate change, reform of international financial institution and the fight against trade protectionism.