MEDIA RELEASE: South Africa’s business leaders share insights from the BRICS Business Forum 2021

[Johannesburg, August 26, 2021] Leading South African executives recently shared their insights with the BRICS Business Forum, hosted virtually by India. The aim of the forum was to hold discussions and develop relationships in key areas of cooperation and to develop joint recommendations for strengthening trade and economic relations within the BRICS against the background of the pressing socio-economic difficulties that have arisen as a result of COVID-19 .

The Chair of the BRICS Business Council South Africa Chapter, Ms. Busi Mabuza, says that “The pandemic could have decimated our global food supply chains. Sub-Saharan Africa avoided the disastrous effects due to a combination of two factors: happiness in the form of better rainfall last year and quick response from public policy. We are not out of the forest yet. “

“When the pandemic hit our shores in March 2020, there were legitimate fears that agricultural production would be disrupted and food insecurity would increase, leading to tens of millions more people falling into extreme poverty. This fear has been expressed by many, including the World Bank. It is important that we contextualize this reasonable fear. Our continent is a net importer of agricultural and food products, while South Africa continues to work to gain better market access, particularly to China, Russia and India, for our many high-quality agricultural products, “she said, adding that” due to the initial uncertainty On the transmission of the coronavirus, the main food exporting and importing countries (including some of our BRICS partners) understandably decided to ban various food products, including grain exports. South Africa also initially closed its ports, ”said Mabuza.

“Manufacturing facilities were closed in parts of the world at a time when the world was still suffering from the effects of the US-China trade war. The widespread job losses have led to an increase in food insecurity, particularly during the tougher lockdown in countries like South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Uganda and Malawi. The suspension of school classes during the tougher lockdown periods led to the suspension of feeding programs in churches and schools, making the situation worse. The South African government responded with a massive targeted welfare program that fortunately has averted a humanitarian catastrophe from hunger and poverty, ”Mabuza said.

“Most governments have responded to the food shortage challenge by increasing grain imports and looking for new local sourcing opportunities. Sustained political interventions must promote and support intra-African trade and trade with nations such as the BRIC countries. There are efforts domestically to step up support for rural communities to produce more and invest in infrastructure so they can get their products to market, ”she said. Mabuza also praised the World Trade Organization for leadership development. “The changes in leadership at the World Trade Organization are welcome and offer a new opportunity for further liberalization of agricultural trade. We should seize this moment. Otherwise, we may be out of luck if the pandemic continues beyond 2022. “

Regarding South Africa and the continent’s vaccines, Mabuza said, “South Africa is in a better position in terms of supply, and our government, in partnership with the private sector, has greatly improved the availability of vaccines to make them widely available. In the same breath. I regret the fact that this is not the case for other parts of the continent. We applaud the $ 600 million pledge by the governments of France, Germany and the United States, as well as the World Bank, to support Aspen, one of our pharmaceutical companies, in making Johnson & Johnson vaccines for the rest of the continent. “

Important findings of the South African delegation are attached to this media release.

DOWNLOAD KEY INSIGHTS from BRICS Business Forum 2021: A South African Perspective.

Published by Brand South Africa and the BRICS Business Forum SA Chapter

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