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South African foreign minister says BRICS to focus on people-to-people relations

BRICS countries of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa reached major economic decisions at the summit in Brazil and at the next meeting in Russia in 2015 should consider expanding people-to people relations, South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said on Friday.

"As we go to Ufa in Russia [the next BRICS summit will be held in Russia in 2015] we concluded that time has come for us to start involving our own people within BRICS so that it is not only the forum of governments, but a people's centre," she told ITAR-TASS upon returning from Brazil.

Instruments have already been created for that in the form of the BRICS Business Council, Think Tank and academic forums. "We really want to take BRICS to the people now," the minister said.

Nkoana-Mashabane outlined four major economic achievements of BRICS in Brazil. She described the creation of the New Development Bank as "ground-breaking project since Bretton-Woods institution" which was accomplished in less than two years. "It is a game changer that will focus on unleashing the potential of developing countries", the minister said.

The Contingency Reserve Arrangement /CRA/ was another "ground-breaking achievement" that will ease liquidity strain. "There will be resources of 100 billion dollars which will cushion the effect and guarantee that we do not end up with the crisis," the minister stressed.

The agreement on cargo insurance will help avoid problems which emerged, in particular, with Iranian oil imports that were blocked as western insurance companies had to comply with US-imposed sanctions.

"You have seen that when big powers are unhappy with others they use insurance and reinsurance to block trade. So we have ensured a facility that will help us go on", the minister said.

Bilateral trade in national currencies will serve the same aim through bypassing the US dollar. "We also ensured trade in national currencies so that we do not trade Uncle Sam currency if the transaction has nothing to do with it," Nkoana-Mashabane said.

Among key outcomes is that BRICS has become a forum of dialogue with neighboring states. The first outreach with African leaders took place at the summit in South Africa last year and the same event was now held in Brazil with South American leaders.

The meeting aimed "not to dictate but to listen how we can bring about a new world order with peace, security and development," the minister said.

"These are success stories of BRICS," Nkoana-Mashabane concluded.

[Source: Itar Tass, Pretoria, 18Jul14]

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