BRICS Business Council game changer in Global Agenda Countries in the emerging markets have better prospects to increase their competitive advantage in world economic affairs by recognizing, strengthening and supporting the role of the private sector in their development efforts.
Whilst each country and region presents a different set of challenges, demographics and ambitions for advancement, there are several cross-cutting commonalities for growth to be found prominently within the private sector. This fact has not escaped the leaders of the BRICS countries, and in 2013 at the Fifth BRICS Heads of State Summit, held in Durban (South Africa), the private sector led BRICS Business Council (BBC) was established to act as the key mechanism to promote trade, investments and ties among the business communities of the five BRICS countries.
The overall objective of the BBC is to function as a platform to facilitate regular exchanges among private sector actors from the BRICS countries. The BBC also plays a pivotal role in implementing the development cooperation and investment priorities of the National Development Bank (NDB). [The NDB is a multilateral development bank established by the BRICS countries to, among other things, avail resources for South-South cooperation, increase investments in infrastructure in their countries and in other emerging economies and growth poles in the global south].
The core objectives of the Council are as follows:
- Identify concrete areas of cooperation. The Council has so far agreed on the following as initial priorities: infrastructure, mining, iron ore processing, energy, pharmaceuticals, agribusiness, services (such as financial, ICT, transport, healthcare and tourism) manufacturing development, small, medium and large enterprise development, sustainable development, skills development, technology transfer and knowledge sharing;
- Identify priority areas of cooperation with countries from the global growth poles (Africa, Asia and Latin America);
- Exchange best practices and lessons-learned;
- Promote public-private partnerships.
The 2013 Joint Declaration of the Fifth BRICS Heads of State Summit affirms that: “the business council will ensure that there is continuous dialogue between the business communities of the BRICS nations and the governments of the BRICS countries. The Business Council will also identify problems and bottlenecks to ensure greater economic, trade and investment ties amongst the BRICS countries and recommend solutions accordingly.”
The BBC carries out meetings on a regular basis to discuss status of agreed activities in line with the Business Council Terms of Reference and priorities. The official representatives to the BBC are 25 members from private sector companies from each of the BRICS countries.
Brazil assumed the Chairmanship of the BBC represented by the CEO of Brazilian company Marcopolo in Fortaleza. Russia assumed leadership of the BBC in April 2015 with the Chairmanship of the President of the Russian Chamber of Commerce.
The Business Council established six working groups:
- The infrastructure working group (railroads, highways, ports and airlines).
- The manufacturing working group, which includes pharmaceuticals, healthcare, and generic drugs, high technology, processing and value added, steel mills and agro-processing.
- The financial services working group, which includes banking, insurance, investments
- The energy and green economy working group (renewable energy, solar power, natural gas, oil and hydropower).
- The skills development working group.
- The agribusiness working group.