The challenge of protectionism is expected to be high on the agenda of the BRICS Summit that will take place in Johannesburg, South Africa next week.

President Cyril Ramaphosa will chair the summit for the first time.

The five economies from four continents are home to 43% of the world’s population, producing a third of the world’s Gross Domestic Product.

Foreign Ministers of the three countries plus Brazil met for the first time on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York in 2006.

Three years later in 2009, the first BRICS Summit was held in Russia. For some BRICS is seen as an alternative voice.

South Africa attended its first BRICS Summit in China in 2011. It was the third time the heads of states were meeting.

And the continent then hosted the first BRICS summit in Durban, South Africa.

Nine BRICS Summits have taken place so far. The 10th will be hosted by South Africa as it takes over as Chair, and as part of the African agenda other African countries will attend.

One of the major achievements has been the launch of the Development Bank in 2015.

Economic issues of mutual interest top the agenda of BRICS meetings, but they have widened their scope over the years to encompass other topical global issues.

As South Africa takes the Chair in the year of the Nelson Mandela Centenary this may also influence the BRICS focus on Human rights

Presidential Spokesperson Khusela Diko says, “South Africa(n) foreign policy is centred on promoting and protecting human rights. The theme of inclusive growth speaks to advancing economic cooperation, and BRICS has outreach component all in all. Looking at peace and security and trade imbalances, a lot of trade is still skewed towards China. So, we will look at economic justice.”

China’s President Xi Jinping will arrive ahead of his peers for bilateral talks with President Cyril Ramaphosa

Diko says, “South Africa and China share strong historic and strategic relations. So, they’ll be using the meeting to engage, looking at progress in marine industry, infrastructure development the aligning of industrialisation in line with collaboration and inclusive growth in the fourth industrial revolution.”

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