Addressing the gathering while formally inaugurating the 1st BRICS Trade Fair and BRICS Business Forum which is being held from October 12 to 14 at Pragati Maida, New Delhi, M. Hamid Ansari , Vice President of India pointed out that Brazil, Russia, China, South Africa and India – together account for 43% of the world’s population and represent the dynamism, the growth, the future of world trade.
According to him, the first priority is to create a business-friendly environment for investors and entrepreneurs in all member countries with a view to promote mutual trade and investment; and facilitate market inter-linkages and enhance market access opportunities.
Secondly, BRICS would need to foster the liberalisation of trade in Services, especially in promoting movement of people for commercial activity, both with BRICS and globally. The proposal for a BRICS visa on a long-term basis for genuine travelers, is one such effort aimed at stimulating greater economic activity by enhanced mobility of our entrepreneurs.
The Vice President also suggested for enhancing and diversifying trade and investment cooperation that support value addition.
The former diplomat (Ansari) advocated for building resilience to external economic shocks and strengthening macro-economic policy coordination by promoting information exchange through agreed platforms and by deepening interaction and cooperation with non-BRICS countries, international organisations and forums.
“We also need to increase our trade in each other’s currency to further pluralise trading currencies and lessen the use of a single dominant currency. Transition to trade in national currencies will reduce the risk volatility and protect us from adverse fluctuations, which often cause huge economic and trade losses,” Ansari maintained.
Also present on this occasion were the Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, Nirmala Sitharaman; the Minister of Industry, Foreign Trade and Services, Brazil, Marcos Pereira; the Minister of Trade and Industry, Russia, Denis Monturov; the Minister of Trade and Industry, South Africa, Dr. Rob Davies; the Vice Minister for Ministry of Finance and Commerce, China, Wang Shouwen and other dignitaries were present on the occasion.
Addressing the delegates, Sitharaman said that the Trade, Investment and Economic Cooperation underpin the solidarity of BRICS. Earlier in the day, we the Trade Ministers of BRICS countries deliberated on specific areas for cooperation with a view to enhancing intra-BRICS trade. These relate to forging cooperation in specific sectors such as SMEs, Standards, NTMs, IPR, e-Commerce, Single Window and Working Group on Trade. These cooperative frameworks will form focal points to work on concrete actions in a spirit of accommodation and undrestanding.
“The formation of BRICS is a distinct indicator of the emergence of a multi-polarity on the international stage. However, the global governance structures do not reflect the reality and this is where urgent changes are required. It is from this point of view that articulation of positions by BRICS countries and taking united stands on issues of common concern, holds immense significance for ensuring equity, justice and inclusiveness for developing countries. We believe, BRICS can play a positive role in strengthening the multilateral institutions, especially WTO, IMF, World Bank and UN systems,” she pointed out.
Currently, trade amongst the BRICS nations is less than 5% of their total global trade. This amounts to, in actual terms, about US$ 300 billion out of US$ 6.50 trillion. According to the Commerce Minister of India, the subdued global trade could be a major reason, as it has impacted BRICS economies differently, some through falling commodity prices and others on account shrinking demand for manufactured goods. We need to find innovative ways of increasing intra-BRICS trade.
“India has taken a lead on the MSME sector. We believe this sector is vulnerable to global volatility and needs support, both in terms of finance and transfer of technology. MSME sustenance is crucial because they generate large employment in our countries. We would urge New Development Bank (NDB) to come out with ideas and pilot projects for strengthening MSMEs in the BRICS countries. This support, I believe, should also extend to the MSMEs in the BIMSTEC countries, which are also facing similar challenges of adaptation and survival,” she urged.
The BRICS Forum and Trade Fair gathering included more than 1,000 entrepreneurs from BRICS and BIMSTEC countries under one platform to explore opportunities of trade, investment and technology collaborations during the 3-day Fair.