Business Leaders from the BRICS bloc of emerging economies on Wednesday called for stronger integration among member countries to deepen economic cooperation amid rising protectionism.
Integration “is a necessity and a historic trend, and there is no way to stop it,” Xu Lirong, a Chinese Member of the BRICS Business Council, said at this year’s BRICS Business Forum.
“Two thirds of Global production is chain (production) with integrated economies. We are at a new stage of the industrial revolution, with new companies, and right now we are seeing major changes,” said Xu.
Xu suggested that BRICS, which groups Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, should adopt a new scheme of economic cooperation, so that member countries “can upgrade their economies,” especially as “the old multilateral practices are under threat.”
To step up cooperation, the bloc can look to the Chinese Belt & Road Initiative to spur global economic growth through increased trade and infrastructure building, said Xu.
The BRICS Business Council is important as it can suggest ways to enhance integration and cooperation, said Jackson Schneider, a Brazilian member of the council.
“The BRICS Business Council has strategic relevance for business owners as it is a permanent canal for dialogue between countries, and has been essential to strengthening economic ties in recent years,” said Schneider.
The council has identified priority areas for cooperation, including biotechnology, electronic health and sanitary certificates to ease trade in food products, and greater connectivity, he said.
“BRICS is a group of large, complex and diverse economies that represent more than 40 percent of the world population. The Business Council should expand the debate to outline how the private sector can promote the development of trade within the bloc,” said Schneider.
According to Russian council member Sergey Katyrin, “today BRICS is one of the most important pillars of the global multipolar system, with economic cooperation that is expanding and growing stronger despite the difficulty of (trade) barriers.”
Indian Council Member Onkar Kanwar believes the bloc “has a very high potential” to boost trade among its members.
The bloc offers a chance to spur essential growth, said South African Council Member Busi Mabuza. “We need to see a new cycle of development and I think a group such as BRICS can provide us with the leadership needed,” she said.