/ 13 April 2011

Brics nations target closer trade links

Trade and finance officials from five major developing nations, including South Africa, on Wednesday pledged closer cooperation and agreed to set up a liaison group to examine ways to expand economic links.

“This consensus indicates a concrete step in institutional building of deepened business cooperation of the Brics countries,” China’s Minister of Commerce Chen Deming said after the talks between officials from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa in the southern resort of Sanya.

Chen, who chaired Wednesday’s talks, said the liaison group would analyse economic and trade cooperation between the five nations and draft a framework for expansion.

The bloc would also draft measures to expand its cooperation with other developing countries, state media quoted him as saying.

The five trade ministers agreed that the global economy was in recovery after the 2008 financial crisis, and said BRICS nations also faced the challenges of inflation, asset bubbles and over-heated economies.

Chen said the ministers discussed how to safeguard the interests of developing nations in multilateral cooperation and pledged to oppose trade protectionism.

Speaking at a joint conference with Chen and the other three ministers, Indian Minister of Commerce and Industry Anand Sharma urged the bloc to strengthen coordination in agriculture, food safety and high-end manufacturing.

He also said Brics should play a greater role in the planned reforms of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and other international financial institutions.

Leaders of the five nations are scheduled to meet on Thursday in Sanya and issue a closing statement to summarise their consensus on the “global economy, international financial issues and developmental affairs,” China’s Foreign Ministry said.

The Brics leaders were also expected to sign an inter-bank agreement to allow their nations to offer credit or grants to each other in their own currencies instead of US dollars. — Sapa-dpa