On 24th August, 2023, the 15th BRICS Summit was successfully concluded in Johannesburg, South Africa, adopting the Johannesburg II Declaration. 67 leaders from Africa and the Global South countries were invited.
The Historical Expansion
From 1st January, 2024, Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will become full members of BRICS. This historical expansion demonstrates the BRICS commitment to cooperate in unity with all developing countries, which meets the expectations of the international community. It will also inject new vitality into the BRICS cooperation mechanism and further strengthen the forces for world peace and development. It is reported that more than 40 countries have expressed their desire to join the BRICS, within which 23 countries, including the above-mentioned six countries, have formally submitted applications for membership. BRICS countries have reached consensus on the guiding principles and procedures of expansion process and will further develop a list of prospective partner countries.
Partnership for Inclusive Multilateralism
The BRICS reiterate the commitment to inclusive multilateralism and express concern about the use of unilateral coercive measures, which are incompatible with the principles of the UN Charter and produce negative effects notably in the developing world. The BRICS support a comprehensive reform of the UN, including its Security Council, to increase the representation of developing countries in the Council’s memberships. The BRICS call for reform of the Bretton Woods institutions, that reflect the role of emerging markets and developing economies in the world economy. The BRICS also reaffirm the support for the rules-based multilateral trading system with the WTO at its core, with special and differential treatment(S&DT) for developing countries, including Least Developed Countries. Finally, the BRICS reaffirm the commitment to ensuring the promotion and protection of democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all with the aim to build a brighter shared future for the international community based on mutually beneficial cooperation.
Support for Africa’s Peace and Development
The BRICS reiterate that the principle “African solutions to African problems” should continue to serve as the basis for conflict resolution. In this regard, the BRICS support African peace efforts on the continent by strengthening the relevant capacities of African States. The BRICS remain concerned at the situation in the Sahel region, in particular in Niger.
Currently, high debt levels in some countries reduce the fiscal space needed to address ongoing development challenges aggravated by spillover effects from external shocks, particularly from sharp monetary tightening in advanced economies. One of the instruments to collectively address debt vulnerabilities is through the implementation of the G20 Common Framework for Debt Treatment, with the participation of official bilateral creditors, private creditors and Multilateral Development Banks in line with the principle of joint action and fair burden-sharing.
The BRICS reaffirm the importance of the G20 to continue playing the role of the premier multilateral forum in the field of international economic and financial cooperation Therefore, the BRICS are committed to a balanced approach by continuing to amplify and further integrate the voice of the global South in the G20 agenda as under the Indian Presidency in 2023 and the Brazilian and South African presidencies in 2024 and 2025
The BRICS reiterate the support to the African Union Agenda 2063 and to Africa’s efforts towards integration, including through the operationalisation of the African Continental Free Trade Area(AfCFTA). The BRICS also stress the importance of issues including industrialization, infrastructure development, food security, agriculture modernisation for sustainable growth health-care, and tackling climate change for the sustainable development of Africa. The African continent remains on the margins of the global trading system and has much to gain through BRICS collaboration. AfCFTA and BRICS cooperation presents opportunities for the continent to transition away from its historic role as a commodity exporter towards higher productivity value addition.
Enhancing China-Africa Cooperation
During the Summit, Chinese President Xi Jinping and South African President Ramaphosa also co-chaired a China-Africa Leaders’ Roundtable Dialogue under the theme “Promoting African integration and jointly building a High-Level Africa-China community with a shared future”. The Dialogue was attended by 11 State leaders and representatives from AU, FOCAC, ECOWAS and other regional institutions.
On which path suits Africa best, the African people have the most say. Advancing modernization through integration is the independent choice made by African countries and people. On this path to modernization, China has all along been a firm supporter, and walking side by side with Africa.
Looking ahead, China will work to strengthen cooperation mechanisms with Africa through Belt and Road cooperation and FOCAC. China will work actively at the G20 Summit next month to support the AU’s full membership in the group. China supports making special arrangements on the UN Security Council reform to meet Africa’s aspiration as a priority. China will call on multilateral financial institutions to enhance the say of African countries.
To help Africa bring its integration and modernization into a fast track, China makes the following three proposals:
—China will launch the Initiative on Supporting Africa’s Industrialization. In implementing the Nine Programs under the FOCAC framework, China will better support Africa in growing its manufacturing sector and realizing industrialization and economic diversification.
—China will launch the Plan for China Supporting Africa’s Agricultural Modernization. China will help Africa expand grain plantation and enhance cooperation on seed and other areas of agro-technology. Meanwhile, China will also provide additional emergency food assistance to African countries in need.
—China will launch the Plan for China-Africa Cooperation on Talent Development. China plans to train 500 principals and high-caliber teachers of vocational colleges every year, and 10,000 technical personnel with both Chinese language and vocational skills for Africa. China will invite 20,000 government officials and technicians of African countries to participate in workshops and seminars. To support Africa in strengthening education and innovation, we will launch the China-Africa Universities 100 Cooperation Plan and 10 pilot exchange programs of China-Africa partner institutes.
More to Come
President Akufo-Addo rightly said during the BRICS Summit that “a strong partnership with the BRICS nations can help construct a prosperous and self-confident Africa”. Next year, China will host the FOCAC meeting, where China and Africa may come together again and draw up new plans for our development. As we join hands to advance modernization, we will deliver a better future for the Chinese and African people, and set a fine example in the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.
By: H.E. LU Kun, Chinese Ambassador to Ghana