Original story here.
By Dec 24, 2010-
Chinese President Hu Jintao wrote a letter to his South African counterpart, Jacob Zuma, to inform him of the decision and inviting him to the BRIC’s third heads of state meeting in Beijing next year, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said in a statement on his ministry’s website today.
South Africa, which has a population of 49 million compared with China’s 1.36 billion, is betting on raising its clout on the world stage by joining BRIC, while also strengthening political and trade ties. South Africa, accounting for about a third of gross domestic product in sub-Saharan Africa, offers the group access to 1 billion consumers on the continent and mineral resources including oil, platinum and copper.
“South Africa as a country is small, but if we go there as a regional market, that’s a different story,” said Martyn Davies, chief executive officer of Johannesburg-based Frontier Advisory, which provides research and corporate finance services on emerging markets. “For South Africa, it’s nice to be associated with the big boys.”
Zuma has made state visits to all of the BRIC nations since coming to power in May last year. South Africa is a “powerful country,” even though it’s small compared with the other BRIC nations, Alexei Vasiliev, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s envoy to Africa, said on Dec. 22.
Importance, Not Size
South Africa has an economy of $286 billion, which is less than a quarter of that of Russia, the smallest of the BRIC nations. South Africa’s population is also dwarfed by India’s 1.2 billion, Brazil’s 191 million and Russia’s 142 million.
South Africa has asked to join BRIC because of its importance in Africa, rather than its size, Trade Minister Rob Davies said on Dec. 14. Africa’s biggest economy is a “systemically important” nation on the continent, he added.
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. economist Jim O’Neill coined the BRIC term in 2001 to describe the four nations that he estimates will collectively equal the U.S. in economic size by 2020. At their first summit in Russia in June last year, the BRIC heads of state called for emerging economies to have a greater voice in international financial institutions and for a more diversified global monetary system.
“South Africa’s economy is very small,” O’Neill said in an interview from London today. “For South Africa to be treated as part of BRIC doesn’t make any sense to me. But South Africa as a representative of the African continent is a different story.”