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Johannesburg, 14 April 2020 – It has been a decade since South Africa joined    Brazil, Russia, India and China to form (BRICS) and while trade among BRICS nations had increased by 70% (in 2016) since the group was established in 2009, some have argued that South Africa’s trade with BRICS nations has, for the most part, favoured the other four countries.

So, how can South African businesses, in general, and manufacturers, in particular, reverse the trend and leverage South Africa’s BRICS membership better? That is one of the questions that will take centre stage at the inaugural BRICS Manufacturing Conference scheduled to take place in Johannesburg on 21 May.

Taking part in the plenary session that will tackle this important topic will be Discovery Health Executive Director Dr Ayanda Ntsaluba, Afika Group CEO Elias Monage, Agribiz CEO and Chairman of the Agribusiness Working Group Dr John Purchase, BRICS SA Aviation Working Group Chairperson June Crawford as well IDC CEO and Chairman of the Financial Working Group TP Nchocho.

According to the Chairman of the Manufacturing Working Group of the SA Chapter of the BRICS Business Council (BBC) Kaizer Nyatsumba, the Conference was born out of the need to help embattled South African manufacturing companies make better use of the country’s existing relations with its fellow BRICS counterparts. He said the Conference is expected to be attended by captains of industry, policy makers and public sector representatives, amongst many other stakeholders.

“The manufacturing industry’s contribution to the economy has been declining for the past two decades as a result of cheap imports from Asian economies, lacklustre domestic demand and rising operational and input costs.”.

It is important, therefore, that domestic manufacturers should look beyond our borders if they are to survive, grow and ultimately create jobs. It is against this backdrop that we decided to host the conference, which aims to assist South African manufacturers to take better advantage of the opportunities presented by BRICS amidst the economic slump that the economy currently finds itself in,” Mr Nyatsumba said.

Other topics that will be discussed at the inaugural conference include “South African Manufacturers and the BRICS Business Council: The Manufacturing Working Group – Does It Matter?”;  “Progress Report on Priority MWG Projects”, and ” A Focus on Some of the Planned New Special Economic Zones”.

Mr Nyatsumba encouraged manufacturing industry stakeholders to attend the conference not only to be addressed by the speakers of the day, but also to make a contribution towards hammering out the necessary solutions that should contribute towards  reversing the fortunes of the industry.