South Africa formally invited to join BRIC group of emerging global powers

South Africa has been formally askedto join the BRIC group of major emerging markets, comprisingBrazil, Russia, India and China, bolstering its position asAfrica’s champion.

Chinese President Hu Jintao wrote a letter to his SouthAfrican counterpart, Jacob Zuma, to inform him of the decisionand inviting him to the BRIC’s third heads of state meeting inBeijing next year, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said ina statement on his ministry’s website today.

South Africa, which has a population of 49 million comparedwith China’s 1.36 billion, is betting on raising its clout onthe world stage by joining BRIC, while strengthening politicaland trade ties within the bloc. The country accounts for about athird of gross domestic product in sub-Saharan Africa and willoffer BRIC members improved access to 1 billion consumers on thecontinent and mineral resources including oil and platinum.

Joining the group is “the best Christmas present ever,”South Africa’s Minister of International Relations andCooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane told a reporters in Pretoriatoday. “We will be a good gateway for the BRIC countries. Whilewe may have a small population, we don’t just speak for SouthAfrica, we speak for Africa as a whole.”