BRICS to further enhance trade and investment facilitation

By Guo Yiming
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, September 3, 2017
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The upcoming BRICS summit is expected to further expand trade and investment within the influential bloc in a global environment of growing anti-globalization and protectionism.

Wang Shouwen (C), vice commerce minister, gives a briefing at a press conference on Sept. 3. [Photo by Zheng Liang/] 

On the back of a fruitful meeting of trade ministers in Shanghai last month, the leaders’ meeting in China’s coastal city of Xiamen is expected to adopt several outlines on trade and investment facilitation, e-commerce, intellectual property right protection and economic and technical cooperation within the bloc, said Wang Shouwen, China’s vice commerce minister, at a press briefing on Sept. 3.

While the five BRICS members have doubled their GDP weighting to 23 percent of the world's total during the past 10 years since the mechanism was launched, trade within the bloc only accounts for 6 percent of the members’ total foreign trade.

"The size is small, but the potential for trade is large," said the vice minister, citing that the large geographical distance of the five countries, which are located in four different continents as well as different time zones is a reason for the small volume of their mutual trade.

He said that the e-commerce cooperation initiative brought forth during the trade ministers’ meeting is vital to tapping into the huge trade potential within the bloc, which, at the same time, will increase local employment, especially among the younger generation and women, and boost small businesses.

According to data from last year, the five BRICS countries are home to over 1.47 billion people, among which 700 million households shop online. "The total e-commerce trade volume reached US$ 871.6 billion and the transnational trade volume hit US$92 billion."

While the potential for e-commerce is large, BRICS countries should still discuss some common issues like logistics, payment, protection of consumers as well as communications to provide benefits for business owners, suppliers and consumers, he said.

In his letters to leaders of other BRICS countries on China's assumption of the rotating presidency, President Xi Jinping reiterated that China will uphold the BRICS spirit of openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation, work with all member states to ensure the success of the summit in Xiamen and bring BRICS cooperation to a new height.

As the rotating presidency, China has included economic and technical cooperation as one of the key topics in the field of economy and trade for the first time, in an aim to improve their capacity of opening up to the international market and to improve mutual investment and trade through themed workshops, training programs and joint research on shared problems.

In response to the comparatively small share of mutual investment within the bloc, which only accounts for 5 percent of their total foreign investment, this year’s BRICS summit is also set to adopt an outline for investment facilitation, said Wang.

It includes addressing problems on three fronts: enhancing transparency of investment policies, streamlining approval procedures and improving communication between the government and the private sector, he explained.

BRICS leaders are meeting in Xiamen for the 9th BRICS Summit. Items on the summit's agenda include deepening cooperation, enhancing global governance, promoting people-to-people exchanges and fostering broader partnerships. Since 2009, BRICS summits have been held annually. The nations' foreign, finance and security ministers also meet regularly.

The five member states are also expected to reach a consensus on supporting the multilateral cooperation regime and opposing protectionism, Wang said.

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