Commentators are quick to play down the importance of SA in Brics. At one level, the grouping is heavily dominated by China, which has an economy more than twice the size of the other members’ combined. With SA making only a 0.4% contribution to nominal global GDP, it hardly adds much heft.

But in the one serious institution to have emerged from the Brics grouping so far, the New Development Bank (NDB), SA is playing an outsize role...

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