The BRICS account for 21% of world GDP (IMF), 17% of world trade, and over 40% of the world’s population. This year, BRICS is expected to grow at almost 5%, well above the world average (at 3.6%).
This year’s summit therefore received quite a lot of media attention, and not just due to the attendance of the brand-new Chinese President Xi Jinping, nor because of the above statistics.
For South Africa, which makes up just 2.5% of total GDP in BRICS, the summit was an opportunity to showcase its role as an investment gateway to Africa and President Zuma therefore invited 15 African heads of state to attend. Tensions between South Africa and Nigeria (surrounding Nigeria’s belief that they should also be part of BRICS) means that President Goodluck Jonathan did not attend, but other heads of state including Angola, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, Uganda, Ethiopia and Egypt, did. Each country actively showcased its nation, grabbing the momentum of the African continent’s current economic boom.
What caused the greatest stir however, were the talks about the establishment of a development bank, which would rival the World Bank and the IMF, and is meant to fund infrastructure and development projects in member states and developing nations, through a joint foreign reserves fund.
The discussions of where the bank will be, or how much money each nation will contribute, did not reach a conclusion. Several experts and officials have said the bank will start with 50 billion dollars, divided equally. BRICS members are clearly seeking greater sway in global finance to match their rising economic power. Undoubtedly the “New Development Bank” will be top of next year’s agenda. The 2014 Summit will be held in Brazil.