Johannesburg: The development bank planned by Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) member states could help South Africa fast-track its multibillion-rand infrastructure programme, Business Unity SA, (Busa) CEO Nomaxabiso Majokweni, told an ANC business forum on Monday.
"An immediate benefit for SA will be a massive injection in our infrastructure development plan, which could help government to meet some of its very ambitious growth targets," Ms Majokweni said.
The bank will hopefully be launched in 2013 to coincide with South Africa's hosting of the Brics summit. Once operational, the bank would translate the political vision of a new world order into practical action, Busa said.
"The Brics bank will promote growth and investment in its member states and other emerging markets, and will be a strong voice in the lobbying for the reform of international financial institutions," said the Busa leader.
South Africa has the ability to double its trade with Brazil, Russia, India, and China to $500bn by 2015, but only if barriers to trade and investment within the bloc were addressed by business and government, she said.
"The balancing act is to ease business transactions while protecting the interests of industry and manufacturing. We are not seeking preferential or free trade agreements. Rather, we should be driving for more transparency from our partners, especially on tariff schedules and hidden internal taxes," said Ms Majokweni.
Among the trade barriers Busa highlighted were what it called "onerous labelling requirements" and sanitary provisions.
"SA should lobby for a permanent business structure that can help to simplify, clarify and overcome these trading obstacles. We have to bring down the cost and complexity of doing business in the Brics countries," said Busa.
Ms Majokweni told the forum that while South Africa was the smallest country of the Brics bloc relatively, it had a noteworthy "asset" in the transparency of its corporate world and the strong international reputation of its financial sector.
The World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report 2011 placed South Africa sixth in the world for bank soundness, and first for regulation of securities exchanges.
"I think it's important to emphasise this strength, so that we can safeguard this valuable asset and continue SA's excellent legacy," Ms Majokweni stated.