Building capacity to help Africa trade better

BRICS diplomats support China’s free-trade advocacy


BRICS diplomats support China’s free-trade advocacy

BRICS diplomats support China’s free-trade advocacy
Photo credit: BRICS 2017 China

Senior BRICS country diplomats voiced support on Friday for China’s call for boosting free trade and opposing protectionism as emerging markets work together to inject power into economic growth.

More than 100 diplomats, officials and bankers from BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – gathered on Thursday and Friday at the 2017 First BRICS Sherpa Meeting in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, to discuss preparations for this year’s summit in Xiamen, Fujian province.

State Councilor Yang Jiechi said at the opening ceremony that BRICS countries have to work together to maintain the openness of global economies.

Ary Norton De Murat Quintella, director of the Department of Central and South Asia and Oceania at Brazil’s Foreign Ministry, said there are trade problems that need to be addressed and the BRICS summit is a proper forum for the countries to discuss these issues.

Brazil opposes all forms of protectionism, he said.

Sergey A. Ryabkov, Russian deputy minister of foreign affairs, said that China, which holds the BRICS rotating presidency this year, is taking “the right approach” in working to “present BRICS as an association with a global reach”.

Russia advocates setting up an action plan “that would allow for better contacts between entrepreneurs without artificial obstacles, without attempts to divide the world’s trade system”, he said.

Alok A. Dimri, joint secretary of multilateral economic relations at India’s Ministry of External Affairs, said the BRICS members look forward to establishing their own mechanisms in areas such as finance, commerce, people-to-people exchanges and education.

“Commodities, products, markets and consumers – they must remain connected. If this connection is broken at any point, there will be reactions to it. So protectionism is a challenge to open global trade and open global order,” he said.

Anil Sooklal, director-general for Asia and the Middle East at South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation, predicted that BRICS countries’ economic growth this year would exceed 5 percent.

“Given the very poor economic environment we have, this is a positive message – the BRICS countries are an engine for growth,” he said.

Open global economy vital despite slowdown

China’s proposal for boosting openness of global economies is during a time when the engine for global growth is losing power, said two senior diplomats from BRICS countries.

Anil Sooklal, Director-General for Asia and the Middle East of South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation, said China has chosen a very appropriate theme – strengthening BRICS partnership for a brighter future – for this year’s meeting.

Sooklal made the remarks on Thursday while talking with reporters during a tea break of the ongoing the first BRICS Sherpa meeting for 2017, which is being held in Nanjing from Thursday to Friday.

“As President Xi said at the World Economic Forum, it’s important that we have inclusive economic growth,” said Sooklal, who is South Africa’s Sherpa for the meeting.

This year is one of the most difficult years the world is experiencing as a global community, he said, mentioning the uncertainties brought forward by America’s new administration and problems in the European Union.

“This provides a major vacuum on the global stage, and BRICS is the only coherent forum. The five countries are a powerful force for good in the world,” he said, adding that BRICS is well placed to show leadership in terms of global economies.

Sergey A. Ryabkov, deputy minister of Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that Russia supports free trade and global trade as China has proposed.

“We are great supporters of WTO system. It took long for Russia to become a member of WTO, so we cannot now sacrifice what we’ve done there,” he said.

“It’s perfectly fine that China tries to present BRICS as an association with global reach,” he said, adding Russia supports such moves.

“BRICS is not against anyone. We have an open mind. Countries from different continents will be invited, I understand, to the next summit in the beauty of Xiamen,” he said.

First BRICS Sherpa Meeting – Nanjing, 23 February 2017

Opening remarks by H.E. Yang Jiechi, State Councilor of the People’s Republic of China

Good afternoon. Welcome to Nanjing, Jiangsu for the First BRICS Sherpa Meeting. Known as the “land of fish and rice”, Jiangsu enjoys a long history and splendid culture, and has made great progress in its economic and social development through reform and opening-up. I wish to thank the Jiangsu provincial government and Nanjing municipal government for their thoughtful arrangements of this meeting. To quote a line from a Chinese poem, now is the season when “the vernal wind has greened the Southern shore again”. It’s also a season of sowing. I believe the efforts by the Sherpas, important aids to the leaders, will sow the seed of success for the summit. Thank you for your hard work and dedication.

The ninth BRICS Summit will be held in the Chinese city of Xiamen, Fujian Province from 3 to 5 September this year. It will be yet another opportunity for China to host BRICS leaders following the Sanya Summit in 2011. President Xi Jinping places high importance on the Xiamen Summit, and looks forward to working with other leaders to build on the fruitful outcomes of the Goa Summit and previous BRICS summits to ensure the success of the Xiamen Summit and inject fresh impetus to BRICS cooperation.

BRICS cooperation started in 2006. The 10 years that followed has been a decade of hard work and great achievements. Thanks to the commitment of all members, BRICS has grown into a big tree laden with fruits. We have stood together in face of challenges to perform a miracle of economic development and set a paradigm of South-South cooperation.

Ten years on, BRICS, once an investment term in some economic report, has gained global visibility and become a shining example of cooperation among emerging markets and developing countries. The BRICS mechanism did not come about by chance. Its inception conformed to the evolving international landscape and the shifting balance of power, echoed the strong aspiration of emerging markets and developing countries for a bigger role in international affairs, and answered the call of people across the world for a joint response to global challenges, thus serving the common interests of the international community. Today, BRICS has grown into an important force for promoting global growth, improving global governance and advancing democracy in international relations.

The reason why BRICS cooperation has come a long way to get where it is today in an ever-changing world is manifold. Guided by a philosophy of shared interests, we have assisted each other in our pursuit of development and delivered real benefits to our people. We have prioritized economic cooperation and established an all-dimensional, wide-ranging and multi-tiered partnership that covers political, economic and people-to-people exchange and cooperation. And with a commitment to equity, justice and development, we have made our voice heard in international and regional affairs and put forth BRICS proposals, thus making major contribution to world peace and prosperity. An important message from the decade-old BRICS cooperation is that whatever difficulties may lie ahead on our way toward common development, great trust in each other and abiding faith in our cooperation will sustain BRICS cooperation against all odds.

We live in an era of great change and adjustment, when both opportunities and challenges abound. Peace, development and mutually beneficial cooperation remain an aspiration widely shared by the international community. The world economy has resumed growth, a new round of technological revolution and industrial evolution are in the making and the trend of innovation and reform is gaining momentum. According to the IMF, BRICS countries and other emerging markets and developing countries contributed 80% of global growth in 2016.

On the other hand, the global recovery is not solidly based and growth remains weak. Quite a few emerging markets and developing countries have encountered headwind in their economic development, and to close the gap between the South and the North and that between the poor and the rich remains an arduous task. Economic globalization is suffering setbacks. Protectionism is coming back. Geopolitical conflicts keep emerging, terrorists forces are wreaking havoc, and traditional and non-traditional security risks get intertwined. There is a significant rise of uncertainties in the world’s political and economic situation.

In such a complex and fluid environment, we need to stay confident and jointly tackle challenges and seize opportunities for common development. Our journey over the past decade is the very source of our conviction that our endowment as well as our advantage as a latecomer remain unchanged and that our development is gaining momentum, not losing steam. The internal impetus and huge potential for BRICS cooperation remain unchanged and the space for such cooperation is expanding, not shrinking. The historical trend of BRICS playing a bigger role in international affairs remains unchanged and the international expectation on BRICS is growing, not declining. From this new starting point, we should and can usher in a still more brilliant decade of BRICS cooperation.

On 1 January, President Xi Jinping sent letters to President Vladimir Putin, President Jacob Zuma, President Michel Temer and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, initiating BRICS cooperation in 2017. In his letters, President Xi stressed China’s wish to discuss with fellow BRICS members on the theme of Stronger Partnership for a Brighter Future at the Xiamen Summit to review past experience, build consensus and work out a blueprint for future cooperation. This is what President Xi expects from the Xiamen Summit and the future of BRICS development. It is also what China will be working for during its BRICS chairmanship in 2017.

To be specific, China hopes that the following areas will be priorities in preparations for the Xiamen Summit.

  • Enhance unity and coordination in improving global governance. With our role shifting from participants to pace-setters of global governance, we BRICS countries should and can contribute more BRICS wisdom in addressing global challenges. That, however, does not mean we will impose our will on others. Rather, we will run our own affairs well while trying to provide more public goods and working with other countries to build a community of shared future for mankind and find a new path of global governance featuring wide consultation, joint contribution, win-win cooperation and shared benefits.

We need to step up communication and coordination on major international and regional issues, champion multilateralism centered around the United Nations and promote political dialogue and negotiation as the means to settle disagreements in order to safeguard peace and stability in the world. We need to make full use of such platforms as the G20 and work with other major economies to find new sources of global recovery and deliver strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth. It is important that we uphold and develop an open world economy, jointly oppose trade protectionism, facilitate healthy development of economic globalization, and foster an enabling external environment for the development of all countries. We need to advance the reform of global economic governance and increase the representation and voice of emerging markets and developing countries.

  • Deepen practical cooperation for win-win results. Practical cooperation has featured prominently in BRICS cooperation. Thanks to ten years of unremitting efforts, BRICS cooperation in economic, financial, trade and some other areas has yielded rich fruits, including such pioneering and landmark achievements as the New Development Bank and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement. That said, resource complementarities of our five countries are yet to be fully tapped and cooperation channels in many fields fully explored. There is vast space for BRICS practical cooperation.

We need to facilitate inter-market linkages through trade and investment, strengthen financial integration and enhance infrastructure connectivity. It is important that we step up coordination on macroeconomic policies, advance structural reform and increase synergy of our development strategies. We must ensure the success of the New Development Bank and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement to bring real benefits to the people of not only our five countries but also other emerging markets and developing countries. We should further tap our cooperation potential, identify more converging interests in areas such as trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, e-commerce, financial market connectivity and innovation-driven development, and carry out more result-oriented cooperation programs that can deliver economic and social benefits, so that BRICS cooperation will be constantly renewed and reinvigorated to serve inter-connected growth.

  • Increase people-to-people exchanges to win greater popular support for BRICS cooperation. We BRICS countries come from four continents, and each has its unique and profound cultural heritage. The vibrant and colorful people-to-people and cultural exchanges that we have had in recent years have significantly boosted the traditional friendship and mutual understanding among our people.

Amity among our people is crucial for the future of BRICS cooperation. It is important that we act upon the agreement of our leaders to support our business and academic communities, media, think tanks, cultural groups and people from all walks of life in carrying out multi-dimensional, friendly people-to-people and cultural exchanges. Events such as the BRICS Culture Festival, Film Festival, Sports Games and High-Level Meeting on Traditional Medicine are excellent opportunities for our people to learn more about each other and lend their support to BRICS cooperation. We should also introduce more enabling policies to encourage more substantive people-to-people and cultural cooperation, which will in turn help sustain BRICS overall cooperation.

  • Strengthen institution building and improve cooperation platforms. Our cooperation system has been steadily enriched and improved in tandem with the progressive development of the BRICS mechanism. As our cooperation continues to grow in breadth and depth, the cooperation mechanisms should keep up with the developments and provide stronger support for our cooperation in the political, economic, cultural and other fields.

We need to harmonize the various cooperation mechanisms and make sure that our cooperation is well-coordinated and coherent and that the consensus of successive summits is truly followed through. The role of the Meeting of National Security Advisers, the Meeting of Foreign Ministers and the Sherpa Meetings should be better leveraged. While making good use of the existing mechanisms such as the Business Council and Think Tanks Council, we may also explore new mechanisms and platform in areas such as innovation and culture. We should carry out more outreach dialogue to benefit more parties with our cooperation, foster a “BRICS+” model of open cooperation, and set up a more broad-based South-South cooperation platform for the common development of emerging market economies and developing countries.

China hopes and believes that following the BRICS spirit of openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation, we BRICS countries can further enhance our cooperation and ensure a brighter future for the common development of our five countries. We will build a South-South cooperation platform of greater global influence and work for a brighter future for the economic and social development of emerging markets and developing countries. And we will promote a fairer and more equitable international order and usher in a brighter future for global peace and development.

Blessed with gorgeous mountains and rivers, Nanjing has been home to numerous legendary figures in Chinese history. I’m sure that by having the 2017 First BRICS Sherpa Meeting in the city of Nanjing, you will have deep, thorough exchanges, provide insights for BRICS cooperation, and help China to get its BRICS chairmanship and preparations for the Xiamen Summit to a good start. I’m confident that with the joint efforts of our five countries, the Xiamen Summit will deliver fruitful outcomes and bring about an even brighter future for BRICS countries.

Thank you.


Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Tel +27 21 880 2010