Brics Summit brings Busa, BBC together
SA’s top business councils set aside their differences as high-level conference comes to Durban
The nation’s powerful business bodies, the Black Business Council (BBC) and Business Unity SA (Busa), have put their differences aside to ensure that South Africa is properly represented in the mooted Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Business Council.
President Jacob Zuma will host his counterparts from the five-state member body on March 26 and 27 at the Durban International Convention Centre, KwaZulu-Natal, where the council will be launched.
Each Brics nation will send five representatives to the 25-member council.
The business council is set to lead deliberations on better ways of fostering closer cooperation among Brics member states to boost investment and trade. Other issues that may come up for debate include easing of visa restrictions, repatriation of profits, business registration, elimination of risks, easy access to information and business intelligence.
BBC chief executive Xolani Qubeka said his organisation was willing to work with Busa to ensure that South Africa benefited from its participation in the Brics Business Council.
Qubeka said the department of trade and industry (the dti) had instructed the two business organisations to put the interests of the nation first, instead of focusing on narrow, self interests.
“In India, there are three business chambers and they work well together. What is important from the dti’s position is that Busa and the BBC must put the interests of South Africa first, whatever the endeavours they might have.
“We both represent South Africa Incorporated. Our interests must not be about Busa or the BBC; they must be about South Africa first,” Qubeka said, adding: “When we went to the Brics Summit in India last year, Busa and the BBC were represented equally.”
Busa chief executive Nomaxabiso Majokweni agreed that South African business needed to put on a united front in international forums.
“South African business is represented as South African business at all international trade, investment and cooperation platforms, and never as different business bodies,” Majokweni said.
Busa and the BBC have not revealed the names of the five officials who are going to sit on the business council.
“Brics is a government-initiated cooperation, trade and investment platform and, as such, business is invited by the government to participate.
“the dti is charged with the responsibility of putting together the Brics Business Council and Busa has been invited to submit nominations to the council. We have done so,” she said.
Majokweni said the Busa nominations were decided on the value nominees added to the business council, adding that the council would also seek to facilitate trade and investment, not only among the Brics states, but the greater African continent.
Qubeka hoped the planned Brics development bank would facilitate access to finance to boost trade and investment as well as fund the infrastructure investment projects.
“The obvious benefits of participating in the council is access to various markets, especially for our manufacturers.
“The Brics bank will facilitate access to capital for large-scale infrastructure investments, trade and investment,” she said.
The Brics nations’ share of global output is expected to increase from 18% to 25% over the next 10 years and even to one-third by 2030. Their combined foreign reserves are estimated at $4 trillion (about R37 trillion).
Qubeka pointed out that if South African businesses wanted to grow faster, they should look at extending their tentacles in African and Brics markets.
“The highest growth rates are not in Europe or the US; they are in the Brics countries and in Africa. South Africa is ideally positioned because it is the gateway to Africa,” Qubeka said.
Although the hostilities are set aside for now, Qubeka said the BBC had not abandoned the struggle to make South Africa an economically equitable society.
“We view Busa as representing established, big business, which is predominantly white, but we also accept, as the BBC, that there are white SMMEs represented by Busa.
“We see ourselves as representing black business – big and small. We want to deracialise the concentration of wealth,” he said.