13 April 2011
Economic and trade ministers of the BRICS grouping of powerful emerging economies have decided to set up a liaison group to intensify cooperation between the BRICS nations and South-South cooperation with other developing countries.
Speaking at a joint press conference after the first BRICS Economic and Trade Ministers Meeting in the southern Chinese beach resort of Sanya on Wednesday, China’s minister of commerce, Chen Deming, said the liaison group would look into specific measures to broaden South-South relations and trade.
The liaison group would analyse current cooperation and trade and assess its future trend before putting forward an institutional framework and specific measures to expand business cooperation among BRICS members.
Deming said he and his four counterparts had held a “fruitful” 90-minute meeting which covered three issues: the various policies adopted by each country following the global downturn; how BRICS members can enhance trade and economic co-operation; and how BRICS countries could safeguard the interests of developing countries through multi-lateral cooperation.
“We still face many common challenges in the post-crisis era which require us to work even more closely, make the best use of our complementary advantages in capital, resources, market, science and technology and human resources and keep upgrading our economic co-operation and trade,” Deming said.
He said the world economy was recovering, but still faced major challenges, including the crisis in the Arab world, Japan’s recovery from last month’s massive earthquake, a debt crisis in Europe, as well as the threat of increasing inflation and asset bubble problems.
Russia’s ascendancy to the WTO
On the issue of Russia’s ascendancy to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Deming said it was “extremely unreasonable” that, 18 years after applying to join the world trade body, Russia had still not been granted membership.
He said the admission of Russia would make the WTO more representative and expand the influence of the multilateral trading system.
Russia’s deputy minister of economic development, Oleg Fomichev, expressed his gratitude to the other BRICS countries for supporting Russia’s WTO membership and their pledge to help speed up negotiations at Geneva around Russia’s ascension to the world trade body.
He said a large number of problems in each of the four countries “carried common characters” and could be tackled by setting up institutional linkages between the BRICS countries.
Trade between the BRICS countries increased 15-fold between 2001 and 2010, is currently increasing at a rate of 28 percent annually, and now stands at around US$230-billion.
The five countries make up close to three-billion people or 43 percent of the world’s population, $11-trillion or 16 percent of world’s GDP, and $4.6-trillion or 15 percent of world trade, Deming said.