What the other BRICS countries really think about South Africa

South Africa is hosting the 10th annual summit of the BRICS (Brazil, Russian, India, China and South Africa) bloc in Johannesburg from 25-27 July 2018.

The event is aimed at discussing new areas of cooperation between the five countries, including peacekeeping; the creation of a vaccine research centre; a gender and women forum; partnerships towards progress of the Fourth Industrial Revolution; and the establishment of the BRICS Tourism Track of Cooperation.

While the BRICS partnership has had some detractors, a new report by PwC focusing on the conference noted that our BRICS trading partners and other international countries typically think highly of South Africa.

It added that the WEF Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2017 had ranked South Africa fifth out of 136 countries for branding strategy.

“Based on data from the Bloom Consulting Country Brand Ranking, South Africa’s strategic and tourism promotion was identified by the WEF as being extremely well aligned with the most in-demand topics foreign tourists,” PwC said.

“Bloom Consulting also ranks South Africa 37th out of 193 countries for foreign perceptions and the appeal of the country’s brand from a trade and investment perspective.”

According to PwC, Brand South Africa also regularly conducts research on foreigners’ perceptions of the country.

The following highlights their most recent findings.


Most Brazilians know only a little about South Africa, though a majority of them have a favourable impression of the country based on what they do know.

The tourism industry is the most prominent economic activity that Brazilians associate with South Africa, followed by mining and agriculture.

Low economic growth is the main deterrent for Brazilians to do business in South Africa. In turn, the country’s geographic location and status as an emerging economy are attractive investment features.

Brazilian business people primarily rely on colleagues or associates with experience working in South Africa for information about the country. Consulting firms and trade are the second most important source of information.


Russians know South Africa quite well and half of them have a good impression of the country.

They associate South Africa with mining, agriculture and manufacturing, with tourism listed in fifth position.

The key factors identified by Russians that what would prevent them from doing business in South Africa are political unrest/instability, geographic distance from their own country, and a poor legal system.

On the other hand, South Africa is perceived as an appealing investment destination due to the availability of raw materials and resources and its sound economy and favourable climate.

The primary source of information on the country for Russian business people is their experience working in South Africa.


The majority of Indians believe they know South Africa well, with two-thirds of survey respondents indicating a good impression of the country.

Indians primarily associate the manufacturing and mining industries with South Africa, followed by tourism in third place.

Key hindrances to Indian business people dealing with South Africa are the high crime rate, political instability and adverse government policies.

On a positive note, Indians find the country’s geographic location conducive to trade, and find appeal in South Africa’s availability of raw materials and resources.

To increase their knowledge about South Africa as an investment or trade destination, Indians primarily look to trade shows and exhibitions.


Only 40% of Chinese respondents believe they know South Africa well. Nonetheless, half of those have a good impression of the country.

They primarily associate South Africa with mining, while tourism is second ahead of manufacturing.

The factors identified that would deter the Chinese from investing and doing trade in South Africa include the country’s crime rate and lack of security, political unrest and instability, as well as instances of xenophobia and racism.

Those who are doing business in South Africa, or are considering doing so, cite positive factors like the availability of raw materials and resources as an attractive feature. Trade shows and exhibitions are the primary source of information on South Africa.

Read: South Africa vs BRIC countries – average salaries, GDP and unemployment compared

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What the other BRICS countries really think about South Africa