South African President Jacob Zuma says his country wants to join the informal group of major emerging economies that includes Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Speaking to reporters in Beijing Wednesday, Mr. Zuma said he has expressed a desire to be part of the group during visits to all four nations, which are collectively known as BRIC.

The four nations have called for developing countries to play a bigger role in global financial institutions like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

Mr. Zuma is on a three-day visit to China aimed at increasing bilateral trade and investment.

In a separate speech Wednesday, Mr. Zuma said South Africa aims to achieve annual economic growth of seven percent.  He said the country hopes to reach that goal through heavy investments in electricity, education, and transportation.

Mr. Zuma was accompanied to China by more than 200 South African business leaders, who are scheduled to meet with and sign deals with their Chinese counterparts.

He met Tuesday with President Hu Jintao and was also scheduled to see other Chinese leaders including Premier Wen Jiabao during the visit.

Bilateral trade between South Africa and China topped $16 billion in 2009.  However, South Africa recorded a $2.7 billion trade deficit with China last year, a gap Mr. Zuma said he will try to narrow.

China has invested tens of billions of dollars across Africa over the past decade, as it seeks materials and markets for its growing economy.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.