The 9th BRICS Parliamentary Forum (BRICS PF) got off to a remarkable start today as approximately 250 delegates from about 15 countries across different continents converged for discussions that reinforced the BRICS Parliaments’ commitment to multilateralism, cooperation, and collaboration.
The BRICS PF is an interparliamentary forum composed of presiding officers of Parliaments from BRICS Member States – the Federative Republic of Brazil, the Russian Federation, the Republic of India, the People’s Republic of China, and the Republic of South Africa, whose aim is to deepen collaboration, partnership, and progress.
The 9th BRICS PF is hosted by the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa, in the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality in Gauteng Province under the theme: “Harnessing inclusive Multilateralism and Parliamentary Diplomacy to deepen BRICS and Africa Partnership for Accelerated Implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.”
Today’s debate centred around the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and its potential impact on BRICS nations – as well as the crucial role that parliaments can play in maximizing its benefits. “This agreement presents BRICS nations with a significant opportunity by granting them improved access to the African market, creating new avenues for trade, and opening up possibilities for expanded investments,” said National Assembly Speaker Ms. Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.
Speaker Mapisa-Nqakula said that by collaborating closely with one another, BRICS nations can utilize their collective influence to promote fairer trade, alleviate trade barriers, and address existing imbalances. “This partnership offers an ideal platform to not only strengthen economic ties with Africa but also stimulate Africa’s economic transformation process,” she added.
Speaking during his keynote address, Deputy President Mr. Paul Mashatile said the BRICS PF has the potential to effect change on a global and unprecedented scale. “For starters, BRICS has focused the imagination of the world’s population beyond the citizens of its member states. In and of itself, this is a good thing. However, we should not be surprised when this success factor attracts negative responses from some actors in the world despite the fact that BRICS is not opposed to any state parties or groups. Instead, we seek a peaceful and just world of equitable resource distribution.”
National Council of Provinces Chairperson, Mr. Amos Masondo, said the discussions on the opening day were “characterized by a fruitful exchange of perspectives and expertise. They have enhanced our collective understanding and reinforced our commitment to our common objectives.”
Chairperson Masondo said multilateralism is the cornerstone for BRICS. The BRICS countries have shown greater resolve to pursue multilateralism with the aim of creating a fairer, peaceful, and secure world. Consistent with the understanding that multilateralism is key to containing international rivalries, BRICS has expressed its commitment to multilateralism through upholding international law.
Also speaking on the opening day, former National Assembly Speaker Ms. Baleka Mbete reminisced about the formative years of the BRICS PF. Ms. Mbete, who is also a former Deputy President of the Republic, said that by signing the Memorandum of Understanding on the BRICS Parliamentary Forum, “BRICS parliaments are establishing a platform that seeks to streamline and coordinate our parliamentary contributions to the vision of BRICS.”
It is all systems go for tomorrow as the delegates to the BRICS PF are expected to sign a ground breaking Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will define the general cooperative strategy of the legislative organs of the BRICS Member States. The MoU will enable the members of the BRICS PF to coordinate efforts aimed at developing and strengthening the inter-parliamentary relations of BRICS Member States concerning issues of common interest.
The format of tomorrow’s session, which starts at 09:30am, will include breakaways into commissions which will discuss four broad themes as follows:
i). BRICS and Africa Partnership – Promotion and Acceleration of Regional Integration through the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA);
ii). BRICS Energy Issues – Just transition of Coal to Hydrogen Energy;
iii). Climate change and Legislative mobilization in BRICS countries; and
iv). BRICS Peace and Security: Can Multilateralism Restore Peace and Security?
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: The Parliament.