Johannesburg: Leaders of five major emerging economies -- Brazil, Russia, India and China and South Africa -- are set to met here on the second day of the 2018 BRICS Summit amidst calls for protecting the multilateral trading system that is facing unprecedented challenges.
BRICS Leaders Assess Threats To Multilateral Trade
"We are concerned by the rise in unilateral measures that are incompatible with World Trade Organization rules and are worried about the impact of these measures, especially on developing countries," said President Cyril Ramaphosa of summit host South Africa.
"These developments call for thorough discussion on the role of trade in promoting sustainable development and inclusive growth," he said, addressing the BRICS Business Forum on Wednesday.
Ramaphosa said that Brics countries were increasingly recognised as an influential formation in reinforcing the principles of transparency, inclusiveness and compatibility within the multilateral trading system.
"Intra-Brics co-operation has been gaining momentum in areas such as finance, agriculture, trade, combating transnational crime, science and technology, health, education, security and academic dialogue."
Ramaphosa also said that there is much scope to expand the value of trade between Brics countries, which also need to increase investment between Brics countries, particularly in the productive sectors of our economy.
Equally important is BRICS-Africa cooperation, he said.
"There is great potential for investment in Africa. In the past decade Africa has grown at a rate of 2 to 3 percentage points faster than the global GDP, with regional growth predicted to remain stable above 5% in 2018. This growth will be supported by increasing foreign direct investment flows, public investment in infrastructure and higher agricultural production."
Intra-Brics cooperation has been gaining momentum in areas such as finance, agriculture, trade, combating transnational crime, science and technology, health, education, security and academic dialogue. He also said that the agreement to establish the African Continental Free Trade Area, which provides access to a market of more than one billion people and a combined GDP of more than $3 trillion, presented opportunities for BRICS countries, some of whom had extensive experience in infrastructure development and were leaders in education and skills development.
Earlier, Chinese President Xi Jinping said the world is faced with "a choice between confrontation and co-operation, we are at a crossroad."
"Trade wars should be rejected. Economy hegemony should be rejected. Those who pursue that will only hurt themselves. As BRICS, we should be resolute in rejecting unilateralism and protectionism."
Xi called on the developing world to rise against US protectionism, warning that the tariffs that the world's biggest economy had imposed on imports would have far-reaching implications for emerging nations and markets. South Africa's Minister for Trade and Industry Rob Davies, who also addressed the business forum, said: "South Africa is collateral damage in the current trade wars, as the international trading system is being rebalanced not in the interests of the majority, but in the interests of one party." UNI