Leaders from the BRICS countries, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, delivered their speeches on the first day of the BRICS Summit 2023 in Johannesburg, South Africa. During this summit, the leaders discussed their vision for the future of the BRICS group and addressed important global issues.
Cyril Ramaphosa, the President of South Africa and the chair of the group in 2023, emphasized the importance of stronger ties between nations within BRICS. He highlighted the group’s role in promoting inclusive economic growth and development and the significant contribution of BRICS to the global economy and trade. Ramaphosa also praised the New Development Bank (NDB) created by BRICS member states for its role in infrastructure and sustainable development projects.
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the President of Brazil, highlighted the rapid economic growth of BRICS and its surpassing of the G7 in terms of GDP based on purchasing power parity (PPP). Lula emphasized the need for political, social, and legal certainty for sustainable development and proposed the consideration of a new reference unit to stabilize trade from currency volatility.
Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, addressed financial volatility, inflation, and Western sanctions. He announced Russia’s commitment to provide food security to countries in need and its efforts in the field of energy security, including green energy sources. Putin also mentioned Russia’s emphasis on de-dollarization and its logistical projects aimed at improving connectivity between continents.
Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India, highlighted India’s economic transformation and successes in digitalization, which have facilitated local business, rural-urban connectivity, and transparency. He projected India’s goal of becoming a $5 trillion economy and emphasized India’s progress in infrastructure, renewables, and semiconductor industries.
Wang Wentao, representing Chairman Xi Jinping of China, stressed the concept of a shared future for all humanity and China’s commitment to cooperation and peace. Xi’s speech focused on rejecting hegemony and embracing win-win cooperation, global peace, and diversity. China’s interest in expanding BRICS membership and its openness to cooperation were also highlighted.
In summary, the BRICS leaders emphasized the following:
Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa:
- Ramaphosa highlighted the importance of BRICS’ role in promoting stronger ties between nations over the 15 years of the group’s cooperation.
- He emphasized that BRICS has been instrumental in achieving inclusive economic growth and development that transformed the global economy.
- Ramaphosa pointed out that BRICS now accounts for a quarter of the global economy and a fifth of global trade, making it a significant engine for global growth.
- He praised the role of the New Development Bank (NDB) in mobilizing resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in emerging markets, without the conditionalities often imposed by Western financial institutions.
- Ramaphosa condemned countries that have embraced unilateral protectionist measures in defiance of World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.
- He highlighted the challenges of inequality and poverty faced by South Africa and the African continent, while also emphasizing the continent’s untapped potential in natural resources and human capital.
- Ramaphosa also emphasized the importance of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) for BRICS countries and other global players.
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, President of Brazil:
- Lula highlighted the rapid economic growth of BRICS and its surpassing of the G7 in terms of GDP based on purchasing power parity (PPP).
- He stressed the need for political, social, and legal certainty for sustainable development, and proposed the consideration of a new reference unit to stabilize trade from currency volatility.
- Lula announced Brazil’s intention to return to Africa and offer its expertise in “tropical agriculture” to ensure food security on the continent.
- He emphasized the importance of sustainable development and the green energy sector in Brazil’s economic plans.
- Lula praised the role of the New Development Bank (NDB) in financing infrastructure projects and mentioned Brazil’s support for local currencies in mutual settlements.
Vladimir Putin, President of Russia:
- Putin delivered his speech via video address and discussed the role of BRICS in social-economic growth and sustainable development of emerging markets.
- He criticized Western countries for financial volatility, inflation, and illegitimate sanctions, which he said have resulted in unemployment, resource deficits, and inequality.
- Putin announced Russia’s commitment to providing food security to several African countries and highlighted Russia’s contributions to global grain exports.
- He emphasized Russia’s efforts in the field of energy security, including both traditional fuels and green energy sources.
- Putin highlighted BRICS’ progress in de-dollarization, with a decreasing share of dollar settlements within the group.
- He pointed out Russia’s two major logistical projects, the Northern Sea Route (NSR) and the International North–South Transport Corridor (INSTC), which could enhance connectivity between Eurasia and Africa.
Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India:
- Modi praised BRICS as a hub for the global economy and highlighted India’s transformation of crises into opportunities, citing the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- He projected India’s goal of becoming a $5 trillion economy and highlighted India’s achievements in digitalization, including the creation of a unified payment interface (UPI) for business facilitation.
- Modi emphasized the importance of local business growth, rural-urban connectivity, and the use of technology to eliminate red tape and corruption.
- He mentioned India’s advancements in infrastructure, renewable energy, and semiconductor industries as part of India’s vision for a “New India of the Future.”
Wang Wentao, Minister of Commerce of China (representing Chairman Xi Jinping):
- Wang delivered remarks on behalf of Chairman Xi Jinping, emphasizing China’s vision of a shared future for global development and prosperity.
- Xi sees BRICS as a positive force for growth and rejects the idea of hegemony, aiming to be on the right side of history.
- Wang stressed that the dichotomy between “democratic” and “authoritarian” countries is not reflective of reality and could lead to divisions and clashes.
- China rejects the new “bloc” mentality and embraces win-win cooperation, universal security, global peace, and diversity among civilizations.
- Wang highlighted China’s Global Security Initiative, which aims to address security challenges and maintain peace globally.
- He mentioned China’s interest in expanding BRICS membership and its openness to cooperation, with an emphasis on a common bright future.
These speeches collectively showcased the leaders’ perspectives on BRICS’ role in global economic growth, sustainability, cooperation, and addressing various challenges.
We would like to highlight Russia’s effort to promote women’s role in economy and politics in the Global South. Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed his backing for a distinct ministerial gathering of BRICS nations that focuses on women’s issues. He emphasized that the influence of women in the realms of politics, economics, and society across countries should see a significant enhancement. Putin stated,
“We are fully behind the proposition put forth by our South African counterparts to arrange a dedicated ministerial meeting concerning women, whose involvement in political, economic, and social spheres should unquestionably broaden.”
Overall, the leaders’ speeches at the summit underscored the importance of collaboration within BRICS, discussed economic growth, addressed challenges, and emphasized the shared future of the member countries. The summit also signaled BRICS’ potential for increased functions and capabilities in the future.