SOUTH AFRICA – The inclusion of six new countries in the BRICS partnership will introduce new opportunities for the South African fresh produce export industry.

The Agriculture and Fresh Produce sector received much-deserved attention at this year’s 15th summit of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) group of major emerging economies, which took place in Johannesburg, South Africa.

“In the past, these events were dominated by discussions on energy and minerals, but the Sandton event was dominated by agriculture,” said Justin Chadwick, the CEO of the Citrus Growers’ Association. “Given the significant rural population and the importance of agriculture in the BRICS nations, agriculture should, and did, take center stage.”

Leaders convened at the summit to discuss various global geopolitical issues, trade dynamics, and infrastructure development, as well as explore opportunities to strengthen both diplomatic and economic cooperation.

The highlight of the summit was the announcement of the addition of six new countries – Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – to the BRICS partnership.

The fruit industry took center stage, with particular focus on tariffs and attention to phytosanitary issues.

Chadwick stated that the summit prioritized connecting entrepreneurs, leading to discussions on air linkages between the BRICS nations, visa-free entry, and a shift towards conducting transactions in their own currencies.

South Africa-China bilateral talks were held, during which an agreement was reached to include South Africa as one of the nations exporting avocados to China.

Following this protocol, South Africa will become the second African country, after Kenya, to gain access to the Chinese market for its avocados.

The South African avocado industry is currently finalizing the last details for exports before the new regulations take effect in 2024.

Chadwick added that among the BRICS nations, South Africa is viewed as a representative of Africa, presenting the wishes and priorities of the African continent.

“There was a lot of discussion on the African Continental Free Trade Agreement – and how Africa will be connected in the future,” Chadwick explained.

Furthermore, the new member countries bring their thriving economies with them, such as Argentina and Egypt, which are major producers of fruits.

The inclusion of Argentina adds another significant lemon-exporting country to BRICS, while the inclusion of Egypt adds a major orange producer and exporter to the partnership, benefiting African citrus.

Coincidentally, South Africa already has several export destinations within the BRICS countries, namely China, the fourth-ranked nation Russia, followed by the UAE ranking fifth, and Saudi Arabia ranking eighth.

Chadwick added that a total of more than 600,000 tons of South African was exported to these countries, countries which represents percent of the of total exports.

Referring to South Africa’s growth potential in the export market, he mentioned a season when the country had exported 45,000 tons of fruit to Iran. He also added that this trend could be easily revived with the new partnerships.

The membership in BRICS offers several benefits, including economic cooperation, trade and market access, increased bargaining power, and access to policy and technical expertise, among others.


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