“All five BRICS countries deem manufacturing to be an important part of their future aspirations – they all want to industrialise, they all want job creation. The question then becomes do we compete or do we collaborate because everyone wants to manufacture in their country and export,” said BRICS Business Council SA member and Aspen senior executive, Stavros Nicolao.
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“The focus of this manufacturing group was in two areas – the first is where can we find complementation where we can synergise, work together and tackle not only the BRICS destinations but cooperate within BRICS to access markets outside of BRICS? The second area was where do we see bottlenecks [and] obstacles that reside within the BRICS jurisdictions?”
Nicolao, who spoke to CNBC Africa at the recently concluded BRICS summit in Brazil, indicated that the Business Council has attempted to deal with tension at a geopolitical level by depoliticising the council itself.
“That’s why there is a business council, so you don’t get caught up in the politics. [In] the first year of the council, it was a mammoth task putting these five countries together to cooperate at a business level. Traditionally, the discussions have been more at a political level. What we’ve attempted to do is identify the sectors in which there are complementarities,” he said.
However, in order to capitalise and build on these complementarities, the BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – would also have to decide on how to enhance the synergies between them.
“Its competition and collaboration, and it’s how you identify the opportunities and where you see the synergies. We saw synergies in collaborating with Indian API manufacturers and that’s what we’ve done. We’re not competing head on, they’re not competing head on in that space,” Nicolao said.
“We’d rather see where the synergies are. We might have the products and the relationships, they might have the capacity and some of the technology, so it’s a case of how do you combine the two to maximise the opportunities globally, not just in selective markets.”
Nicolao emphasised that, as the next chair of the business council, Brazil’s focus, as well as the focus of BRICS nations in general, must be around operationalising things and executing plans.
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“Industrialisation is important because that’s a key element to all five of these BRICS economies’ future aspirations,” he explained.
“The important thing with industrialising is the multiply effect back into an economy. Industrialising is more pronounced than most other economic activities – that’s where we’ve put the focus. The focus now has to shift from the identification phase into implementation and execution.”