BRICS members rally to counter shocks of bullying, protectionism

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China Daily, November 15, 2019
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Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks at the closing ceremony of the BRICS business forum in Brasilia, Brazil, Nov. 13, 2019. [Photo/Xinhua]

From Athens to Brasilia, Chinese President Xi Jinping has been calling for multilateral approaches to counter an impending global economic downturn.

China, as he has reiterated to his different audiences, stands firm against the "protectionist and bullying counter-currents" that bring shocks to international trade and increase the downward pressure on the world economy.

Last year at the 10th BRICS summit in South Africa, Brazil, Russia, India, China and the host country jointly initiated their Partnership on New Industrial Revolution. Now at the 11th summit in Brazil, they are giving substance to that Partnership with pledges to boost intra-BRICS trade and investment. Given the conspicuous uncertainties facing the individual BRICS members, invigorating intra-group trade is not only a pragmatic move to boost their economies, it also lends credence to their calls for concerted efforts to safeguard the multilateral global trading regime.

Different histories, systems and national conditions determine countries' diverse needs and wants. For all the differences, even divergences, between and among BRICS members, they come together believing they have more to gain from cooperation than to lose.

Beijing and New Delhi have multiple unsettled border disputes, but that has hardly dampened their shared interest in cooperating under both bilateral and multilateral frameworks. The president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, was once a famous critic of his country's trade with China. Now leading the largest Latin American country, he finds "China is becoming more and more part of Brazil's future", and vows, "We want to more than expand, we want to diversify our trade relationship".

That surely is an impressive change of perspective. But in no way surprising. As Xi keeps saying, China's development offers boundless opportunities for the rest of the world.

President Bolsonaro has made reviving growth a top priority of his administration, so it is no surprise that China and Brazil are reportedly talking about a free trade zone.

China is not only his country's largest trading partner, but also one that is a member of the ambitious BRICS family of which Brazil too is a part. The BRICS Partnership on New Industrial Revolution is vital to BRICS' economic cooperation in the next stage, as it promotes high-quality development of the BRICS economies in areas such as innovation, the digital economy and the green economy.

The global economic landscape is gloomy under the threat of a protectionist upsurge. As economic globalization faces headwinds, the BRICS economies should identify the difficulties and pain points that hinder trade and investment among them and come up with practical solutions.

If the five once robust emerging economies, which together constitute one of the world's largest trading blocks, can commit fully to collaboration, there are boundless possibilities at their disposal.

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