Development of BRICS Bilateral Trade Relations: A South African Perspective



This study examines the structure, value, intensity and complementarity of South Africa’s trade with its Brazil–Russia-India-China (BRIC) partners. It highlights the increasing dynamism of intra- BRICS trade, which started on accession to the World Trade Organisation in 2010. Key determinants to this dynamism include the rapid growth of Chinese and Indian economies accompanied by a steep rise in demand for South Africa’s primary commodities. The rising intensity with China is demand-oriented, while the intensity with India is supply-oriented, mostly in semi-finished and finished commodities.

South Africa’s addition to BRIC coincided with three key developments; its trade balance with most BRIC economies narrowed; the quality of its exports to the BRIC improved; and the value of its exports to BRIC exceeded the value of exports to the European Union and Central Asia. The latter development is attributable to trade diversion from the European Union and Central Asia to the BRIC.

Inclusive growth is probable if South Africa could leverage trade with the BRIC. More, so while employment is at peak in labour- intensive primary industry, intra-industry trade with the BRIC would resuscitate the manufacturing and services sectors so that the complementary effects of trade would be feasible.


South Africa; BRICS; Bilateral Trade Relations

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