BRICS to play key role in safeguarding free trade

By Ren Xiaojin | China Daily | Updated: 2017-07-26 07:41

China will further open up its market for imports from other BRICS countries and pledge to spearhead an anti-protectionism campaign with Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa, a senior commerce official said on Tuesday.

"Investment and trade are the vital economic drive for BRICS counties as it has profound potential," Wang Shouwen, vice-minister of commerce, said at a news conference.

"BRICS took up 23 percent of global GDP in 2016, up from 12 percent a decade ago, but only accounted for 16 percent of world trade, 16 percent of total foreign investment and 12 percent of outbound investment."

Wang said that China will further open its market to other BRICS countries and increase imports, as they are highly complementary in trade.

"For example, agricultural products from Brazil, medical products from India, energy products from Russia and wine from South Africa are welcomed in China," Wang said. "In the past six months China's imports from BRICS countries increased 33 percent year-on-year."

The ministry will host a two-day meeting of BRICS trade ministers in Shanghai on Aug 1-2 before the BRICS Leaders' Meeting to be held in Xiamen, Fujian province, in September.

Wang said while protectionists have a skeptical attitude toward multilateral trade, China hopes the BRICS nations could tackle the skeptics as a united team and build a sufficient trade mechanism. To strengthen trade links, Wang said China will host an international imports exhibition from 2018.

"The exhibition will help with trade and stimulate investment," he added. "We are expecting BRICS countries to play an active role in the exhibition, thus ensuring that more goods can enter the Chinese market."

Zhang Shaogang, director-general of the Department of International Trade and Economic Affairs at the Ministry of Commerce, said Chinese e-commerce platforms have been gaining popularity among companies in other BRICS countries.

"We hope to optimize the e-commerce mechanism, encourage industry interaction and set a good example in e-commerce cooperation between developing countries."

Regarding investment, Wang said BRICS countries have been making progress to facilitate multilateral investment.

"The BRICS proposed action plans to facilitate investment in 2014, and the G20 summit agreed on the guiding principles for global investment," said Wang. "And this year's meeting will make further investment more convenient."

The Chinese market will benefit its BRICS partners in many sectors, such as consumer goods from South Africa and Russia.

Neil Wang, China unit president at the global consultancy Frost& Sullivan, said that China is opening up to different sectors, for example the diamond business.

"China was the major diamond import destination and consumer for South Africa and Russia in 2016, and demand for diamonds has been growing since 2012," he said.

"These two countries are also China's important partners in the Belt and Road Initiative. The trade relationship with them will largely affect China's diamond and jewelry market."

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