SA to join Bric mid-April
Beijing - Heads of the world's leading emerging economies will gather in China in mid-April to discuss post-crisis financial reforms and mark the inclusion of South Africa as a member of the bloc.
Qu Xing, president of the government think tank China Institute of International Studies, said at a Wednesday briefing that China had invited South Africa to join the Bric group last year to make it "more representative."
The informal bloc of developing markets had originally included Brazil, Russia, India and China - the world's biggest developing economies. Though South Africa's overall economy is substantially smaller, it accounts for 40% of sub-Saharan Africa's economy.
With the influence of emerging economies rising, the bloc will consider setting up a formal structure and secretariat to help enhance cooperation by the "ad hoc political club," said Liu Youfa, CIIS vice president and an expert on emerging economies.
At the meeting in Sanya on southern Hainan Island, leaders will discuss international financial reforms and preparing for the upcoming G20 meeting later this year, he said.
Though the bloc is largely an economic grouping created to deal with global financial governance, its decisions are increasingly being seen in a political light.
Last week, four of the five countries that abstained on a UN vote authorizing military strikes to enforce a no-fly zone in Libya were Bric nations. South Africa was the only country to vote for the resolution.
However, Qu cautioned that the abstentions signaled common thinking among emerging countries, not a unified political front.
"In the UN Security Council vote, it's not that the countries consulted as a group and voted together. Rather they made decisions based on their own national conditions. But they made similar choices, which shows that they share the same types of concerns on international peace, stability and development issues," he said.
Qu said he does not believe that Bric is likely to change its focus from international financial governance toward political issues soon.
"I believe the timing is not right for the group to have a common political agenda. I think the reason the Bric countries come together is because of the similar economic development stage they are in," he said. "It may be different in the future but at this stage, I don't think it will happen."