The readers of newspapers and followers of radio and TV shows are getting tired of hearing the same old economic woes being broadcast.

Daily, we hear about turmoil in the euro zone and in the financial markets. However, within this troubled global economy, SA and its fellow Brics must step up to the plate, because opportunity awaits.

At the recent Wroclaw Global Forum in Poland, a range of global elites addressed issues concerning economics, democracy and security. The comments largely focused on transatlantic relations, mainly in terms of regional economic decline, "Eurogeddon", austerity and the loss of economic hegemony of the US.

Europe's leaders are showing concern about the rise of the Brics, but mainly about Brazil, Russia, India and China. SA features on the periphery but the labelling of Brics has helpfully signalled the global paradigm shift. As the West is suffering from a tired economic engine, desperate to bring about reforms, the political economy of Europe and the US emphasises the opportunities for countries like SA.

The institutions of the transatlantic economic powerhouse are in need of reform and in this context it is time for SA to seize the moment for the African continent by engaging expanded trade and the Brics leverage.

In the next five years at least, the keyword is growth. This will need to be achieved within the framework of interdependence between key trade partners, both old and new. SA's economic and fiscal position is stable, thus stakeholders need to provide companies with pragmatic, easy-to-do-business solutions within a flexible labour market to focus on growth.

Any frameworks in place need to "provide the goods from the top", as Radoslaw Sikorski, the Polish foreign minister emphasised. SA's institutional structure has been marred by corruption and scandals which limits foreign business and investors. Poland's politico-economic transition is as old as SA's and serves as a model for institutional reform success.

It is counter-productive for the National Union of Metalworkers of SA to call for radical land reform. Such behaviour destroys the faith of the global business community.

SA is globalising, and European decision makers must be careful not to engineer a newly fragmented Europe. This provides SA with incalculable options. SA needs to pay attention to its economy, its institutions, its credibility and its foreign relations. SA needs to step up to the plate and feature at the centre of debate in the circles of global elites and not on the periphery. Democracy and prosperity are linked, and proving this is SA's challenge.

Conrad Kassier

South African master's degree student of the Erasmus Mundus Global Studies programme, Wroclaw and Vienna.