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Brics Business Forum seeks to boost trade among five members

Jul 25 2018 20:04
Sibongile Khumalo

Johannesburg - Hundreds of business and government leaders attended the Brics Business Forum, a platform aimed at enhancing trade between the five Brics member states.

The forum, established in 2013, meets throughout the year to deliberate and make recommendations to governments about ways to harness business opportunities and address trade imbalances.

Here are some of the key take away from the meeting:

Criticism of protectionism policies

China’s President Xi Xinping used the forum to argue against unilateralism and protectionism. This comes in the wake of the US imposing tariffs on billions of dollars worth of Chinese goods. 

Xi sounded a warning saying “a trade war should be rejected because there will be no winner.” He added that those who are "pursuing this course would only end up hurting themselves."

Strengthening of intra-Brics trade

South Africa has maintained a trade deficit with Brazil and China, with China being the country’s largest trading partner among the Brics countries, accounting for between 40-75% of annual exports and up to 75% of annual imports.

The chairperson of the Brics Business Council, Iqbal Surve, said initiatives such as the New Development Bank should be used as vehicles to enhance trade between Brics countries, especially in the face of protectionist policies. 

The New Development Bank’s book value currently stands at $5.7bn, and the bank disbursed loans to the value of $1.7bn this year alone.

Fourth industrial revolution

The integration of technology into the building resilient economies dominated the dialogue, with leaders weighing opportunities and challenges presented by digital disruption.

China and South Africa pledged to form corporations with African countries to exploit scientific innovation opportunities in areas such as mining, research and aerospace.

Brazil's Paulo Sousa e Silva said developing economies could build on the innovations presented by the digital economy and, at the same time, find ways to protect the labour force from possible harm.

Ease of doing business

Following the signing of the agreement between South Africa and China to simplify visa requirements for certain categories of travellers including business people, ease of doing business between members states was one of the subjects of debate among leaders.

Representatives of Brazil and India stated that they were working to establish easier regulations for foreign investors. Tight regulations have been cited as one of the main barriers to foreign investment, especially when it comes to large projects.

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brics2018  |  brics  |  trade  |  business
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