South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma hosted the Fifth BRICS Summit on 27 March 2013 in Durban under the theme: “BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Development, Integration and Industrialisation.” This Summit completed the first cycle of BRICS Summits and was the first time that the Summit was hosted on the African continent. This has specific relevance given that it coincides with the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Organisation of African Unity/African Union (AU).

South Africa’s projected outcomes for the Fifth BRICS Summit were achieved.

  1. The BRICS Leaders agreed to the establishment of a New Development Bank and indicated that the initial capital contribution to the bank should be substantial and sufficient for the bank to be effective in financing infrastructure.
  2. In addition, the Leaders also agreed on the establishment of the contingent reserve arrangement (CRA) with an initial size of US$100 billion. The CRA would help BRICS countries forestall short-term liquidity pressures and further strengthen financial stability. It would also contribute to strengthening the global financial safety net and complement existing international arrangements as an additional line of defence. In this regard, the BRICS Leaders agreed to review progress made in these two initiatives at the next meeting of BRICS Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors in September 2013.
  3. Another outcome of the Summit was the establishment of the BRICS Think Tanks Council and the BRICS Business Council. The BRICS Think Tanks Council will link respective Think Tanks into a network to develop policy options such as the evaluation and future long-term strategy for BRICS. The BRICS Business Council will bring together business associations from each of the BRICS countries and manage engagement between the business communities on an on-going basis. These two new BRICS structures that were initiated under the South African chairpersonship, that is, the BRICS Think Tanks and the BRICS Business Council, will strengthen intra-BRICS cooperation to develop new paradigms for sustainable and inclusive growth models, as well as new learning and knowledge paradigms to deal with our contemporary growth and development challenges.

Two Agreements were concluded under auspices of the BRICS Interbank Cooperation Mechanism.

  1. The BRICS Multilateral Infrastructure Co-Financing Agreement for Africa paves the way for the establishment of co-financing arrangements for infrastructure projects across the African continent.
  2. The BRICS Multilateral Cooperation and Co-Financing Agreement for Sustainable Development sets out to explore the establishment of bilateral agreements aimed at establishing cooperation and co-financing arrangements, specifically around sustainable development and green economy elements.

The Summit outcome documents known as the eThekwini Declaration and Action Plan were adopted at the conclusion of the Summit.

South Africa assumed the BRICS chairpersonship at the Summit and will be responsible for the implementation of the Action Plan during its tenure. Human rights and gender, were for the first time included in the eThekwini Declaration. Linked hereto, was the welcoming of the appointment of the new Chairperson of the AU Commission as an affirmation of the leadership of women, which is an important pronouncement by BRICS.

Matters that are key priorities in terms of the agenda of the African Union have been strategically repositioned in the eThekwini Declaration in line with the Summit theme. BRICS Leaders reaffirmed their support for sustainable infrastructure development, as well as industrial development, job creation, skills development, food and nutrition security and poverty eradication and sustainable development in Africa.

BRICS Leaders expressed their commitment to Peace and Security on the African continent. The BRICS Leaders furthermore called upon the United Nations (UN) to enhance cooperation with the AU, and its Peace and Security Council, pursuant to UN Security Council resolutions.

Regarding the global economic situation, a strong commitment to foster growth and financial stability was articulated by the BRICS Leaders in order to address unemployment. The Leaders reiterated their position that the reform of the International Monetary Fund should reflect the growing weight of BRICS and other developing countries and that agreement on the quota formula should be completed by January next year. The BRICS Leaders also agreed that the election for the next world Trade Organisation (WTO) Director-General should be a candidate from a developing country.