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South Africa Hosts First BRICS Meeting of 2023 Ahead of Summit

© Sputnik / Denis Bolotsky10th BRICS summit in Johannesburg, South Africa
10th BRICS summit in Johannesburg, South Africa - Sputnik International, 1920, 01.02.2023
South Africa took over the BRICS presidency for 2023 from China. Previously, the country chaired the international bloc in 2013-2014 and 2018 after joining it in 2010.
BRICS' new president will hold the first meeting of BRICS Sherpas and Sous-Sherpas – proxies of the heads of the member countries – in Bela Bela, Limpopo province, South Africa from 1-2 February.
The representatives of Brazil, Russia, India and China will be hosted by Anil Sooklal, South African Ambassador-at-Large for Asia and BRICS Sherpa Professor, a press release of the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation said.
The first BRICS Sherpas and Sous-Sherpas meeting will become the platform for South African senior government officials, BRICS Business Council, BRICS Women's Business Alliance and the BRICS Think Tanks Council to enlighten other member states about their expectations and priorities for the activity of BRICS in 2023.
It is the first step for the South African presidency in BRICS before the bloc’s 15th summit in Durban, South Africa, in August this year.
The main theme for 2023 set by South Africa is "BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development, and Inclusive Multilateralism", which emphasizes the continued importance of BRICS as a dialogue for mutually beneficial growth and development.
According to the press release of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa, among South African priorities for this year are developing a partnership towards an equitable Just Transition; transforming education and skills development for the future; unlocking opportunities through the African Continental Free Trade Agreement; strengthening post-pandemic socio-economic recovery and the attainment of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development and strengthening multilateralism, including working towards real reform of global governance institutions and strengthening the meaningful participation of women in peace processes.
BRICS is a forum that consists of 5 countries from different parts of the world – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
In the framework of the contemporary world order, BRICS is seen by many as a counterbalance to western-led organizations, willing to create a multipolar world and reduce the dependence on the West.
As South Africa is preparing to host the 2023 BRICS summit, among the issues that are set to be discussed during the event are the expansion of the bloc, the establishment of trade mechanisms that are not dependent on the West, and including the creation of a common currency for the member states.
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In January 2023, Naledi Pandor, South Africa's Minister of International Relations and Cooperation said that BRICS was working on criteria for countries that want to join the bloc and a decision on accepting new members may be made by the end of 2023.
Before that, several countries expressed their interest to take part in the forum. Argentina, Iran and Algeria have already applied for BRICS membership. According to the January 22 statement by the South African Ambassador to Russia Mzuvukile Maqetuka, about 13 countries are interested in joining the BRICS group.
During his African tour over Africa in late January, Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov revealed that the BRICS members are going to discuss the idea of creating BRICS’ own currency during the summit in August.
While speaking to journalists, the top Russian diplomat noted that the West is trying to prevent the emergence of new centers of economic growth, to which BRICS can be attributed.
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