X BRICS Summit: a New Era of South African Foreign Policy?

Publication type Article
Status Published
Institute for African Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences
National Research University Higher School of Economics
Affiliation: National Research University Higher School of Economics
Journal nameAsia and Africa Today
EditionIssue 10

25-27 July, 2018 the Xth BRICS Summit took place in Johannesburg, South Africa. It was the first BRICS summit for a recently elected South African President C. Ramaphosa, who took the post over from J. Zuma. The latter stepped down amid allegations of corruption and “state capture” against the background of an ongoing socio-economic and political crisis in the country. In this context, the question is how South African foreign policy has changed under a new leader, particularly in relation to BRICS and Russia.In his speeches C. Ramaphosa stressed the importance of deepening economic relations within BRICS through increased investment in the productive sector and value-added trade. This would not only help ameliorate trade imbalances within the group, but also achieve South African internal and wider continental development goals. Despite declining capabilities to perform a multivector foreign policy, South Africa continues to act as the advocate of a general African interest within BRICS and elsewhere, thuspromoting the country’s status of the “gateway to Africa”. This is exemplified by deepening Russian engagement with South Africa and the continent.The institutionalisation of BRICS initiatives, i.e. establishment of the New Development Bank and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement in 2015, along with the opening of a NDB regional branch in South Africa is to a certain extent in the interest of the country as those institutions are designed to foster infrastructure development and macroeconomic stability. Aslo, BRICS shaping image of “protectors” of the world rules-based trading system, global environmental agenda, multilateralism and globalisation brings political benefits in the form of soft power that, in combination with internal measures aimed at improving investment climate, could help attract investments to South Africa and the continent.

KeywordsBRICS, South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, Africa, foreign policy, international relations
Publication date19.10.2018
Number of characters496
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