South African president warns against protectionism, unilateral measures

By Xinhua
On 24 August 2023 at 07:06

JOHANNESBURG, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) — South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday warned against "the new wave of protectionism and the subsequent impact of unilateral measures" and called for "transparency and inclusiveness" to safeguard economic growth.

BRICS economies have "emerged as powerful engines of global growth," and "the changes that have taken place in BRICS economies over the past decade have done much to transform the shape of the global economy," Ramaphosa said while addressing the BRICS Business Forum Leaders’ Dialogue here ahead of the 15th BRICS Summit.

The BRICS countries make up a quarter of the global economy, a fifth of global trade and more than 40 percent of the world’s population, while trade between BRICS countries totaled some 162 billion U.S. dollars in 2022, he said, stressing the important role of foreign investment in the growth of BRICS economies.

"However, the new wave of protectionism and the subsequent impact of unilateral measures that are incompatible with WTO rules undermine global economic growth and development," he warned.

"We therefore need to reaffirm our position that economic growth must be underpinned by transparency and inclusiveness. It must be compatible with a multilateral trading system that supports a developmental agenda," he said.

He also called for "a fundamental reform of the global financial institutions so that they can be more agile and responsive to the challenges facing developing economies, hailing the New Development Bank established by BRICS countries in 2015 for having demonstrated ability to mobilize resources for infrastructure and sustainable development in emerging economies without conditionalities.

Noting that the rapid economic, technological and social changes underway create new risks for employment, equality and poverty in many BRICS countries, he called on the business community "to join hands with us to identify solutions to these and other challenges affecting our respective economies."

The president also invited BRICS countries to invest in Africa, which will be positioned as "the next frontier of productivity and growth" with its rich critical minerals and massive untapped potential for investment in infrastructure, agriculture, manufacturing, new energy, the digital economy as well as in skills development, small and medium enterprises, and others.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the closing ceremony of the BRICS Business Forum in Johannesburg, South Africa, Aug. 22, 2023. (Xinhua/Li Yahui)