BRICS opens doors to welcome more members
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BRICS leaders in a group photo.

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THE 9th BRICS Summit will be held in Xiamen, Fujian Province here in China from September 3-5 under China’s Chairmanship.

Five BRICS countries are Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, but this year more countries, including Kenya, have been invited to participate in this meeting.

More African countries will grace this year’s BRICS summit as the regime shifts its focus to developing countries, the forum have invited Egypt, Kenya and Guinea to joined South Africa which forms part of the traditional members of the bloc to be part of the summit earmarked for this week, Communication from the Chinese foreign minister indicates that plan is in top gear to facilitate partnerships between the BRICS block New Development Bank and African Bank.

The summit usually brings together Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The technical committee of the summit however insists that the forum is not limited to the five, given that it is being expanded in order to play a major role in security and economy of the world.

This it says will be done through the establishment of the recently launched New Development Bank, NDB, formed for the sole purpose of facilitation of the framework’s mandate.

With this foregoing, development projects in Africa and Latin America will henceforth receive greater attention from the bloc’s financial institutions, New Development Bank included and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, AIIB.

Former Director of the Institute of World Economy, Prof Chen Fengying says that African countries have a reason to smile as they finally have an institution that solely captures their financial aspirations.

“There are many development banks in the world today, the largest being the World Bank. But the New Development Bank owned by BRICS is the only one with developing countries as its backbone,” said Prof Chen.

According to the former director the forum will now lay the foundation about development in the next decade especially through NDB. “We have set up this bank. We are using it to tackle real challenges.

It is not just a forum. It is a real agency, open to developing countries and emerging markets.” she reiterated. Prof Chen charged that BRICS Plus is a forum to watch as it now controls almost 50 per cent of the world’s economy.

Addressing journalists in Beijing, she disclosed that the aim was for the New Development Bank, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and BRICS Economic Institute to serve as a substitute to the World Bank.

“The issue of BRICS development has since gone beyond its member States. The New Development Bank is up and running, moving from abstract to more concrete issues. As an open platform, BRICS Plus concerns Africa and Latin America; thus the influence of BRICS will become more comprehensive,” Chen stated.

She added that in order to broaden the scope of their activities and be sustainable in the long run, NDB and AIIB will extend their services to Africa and Latin America to finance development projects.

Prof Chen said BRICS plus is keen to expand the role of emerging markets and not just the five member countries. In this regard, the technical committee says it will strengthen cooperation between BRICS and the United Nations.

On the political front, she sought to allay fears that the ongoing border dispute pitting China against India will come up during the week’s summit saying leaders will not be distracted by what she termed as “small issues.”

True to china’s policy of none interference in political and social disputes touching on friendly countries, Prof Chen made it clear that BRICS will not intervene in the internal affairs of member States, adding that the challenges the leaders of South Africa and Brazil now face were transitional.

She attributed their causes to falling commodity prices, and political and economic instability, saying the solution lay in ensuring proper development. “The engagements the leaders of South Africa and Brazil will take at the summit will not be called into question because leaders come and go, but nations remain,” she said.

This year’s summit has a three-wheeled driven agenda that will focus mainly on trade, finance and economy. By so doing, BRICS wants to boost efforts towards world economic recovery through openness, mutual benefit and inclusiveness.

It is exactly this mission that pushes BRICS members to continue deliberations on ongoing attempts to introduce protectionism spearheaded by certain western countries. Russian ambassador to China Andrei Denisov Said BRIC became BRICS, and in Xiamen BRICS becomes BRICS Plus for the first time.

Whether this will be a regular feature or a one-off is unclear, but the decision to invite Egypt, Guinea, Mexico, Thailand and Tajikistan is a signal of the grouping’s determination to be inclusive. For the benefit of African countries, the African Regional Center of the New Development Bank (NDB) was launched in Johannesburg in South Africa.

The opening of NDB’s first regional branch is to strengthen the bank’s role in supporting Africa’s infrastructure and sustainable development. The NDB, established in 2014 with a 100-billionUS dollar reserve currency pool and opened operations in 2015, has already made funding available for several developmental projects in the five BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

In 2016, the NDB granted 1.5 billion US dollars in loans to seven projects mostly involved in green energy or infrastructure. The bank also sold its first 3 billion yuan worth of yuandenominated bonds in China to fund clean energy projects in member states.

One of the projects is backed by South African electricity public utility Eskom, which recently received 180 million US dollars for renewable energy. Currently 90 per cent of South Africa’s power production is generated from coal, and the government plans to reduce and replace that with cleaner power sources.

On 1 January 2017 when China officially took over the BRICS Chairmanship, President Xi Jinping sent letters to presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia, Jacob Zuma of South Africa, Michel Temer of Brazil and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, briefing them on how China plans to promote BRICS cooperation under its Chairmanship. He pointed out that China looks forward to working with the other members to take stock of the decade-long BRICS cooperation and draw a blueprint for future development at the Xiamen Summit under the theme of “BRICS: Stronger Partnership for a Brighter Future”.

He said BRICS partnership has taken deep roots and represents the shared aspirations of all members. The strengthening of BRICS strategic partnership was highlighted both in the 2015 Ufa Declaration and the 2016 Goa Declaration.

Building on this, China looks forward to earnestly implementing the leaders’ consensus and working with all the other members for an enhanced BRICS Partnership.

“China believes that, with a deepened partnership, BRICS countries will comprehensively strengthen practical cooperation in all areas, improve people’s well-being and open up a brighter future for the common development of the five countries. With a deepened partnership, BRICS countries will take SouthSouth cooperation to a new high, accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and open up a brighter future for economic development and social progress of all developing countries,” he said.

As the BRICS Chair for 2017, China will maintain close coordination and cooperation with all the other members during the preparations for the Xiamen Summit so as to jointly ensure its success and write a new chapter for BRICS cooperation.

President Xi announced that this year Summit is expected to make progress in four areas: deepen BRICS cooperation for common development, enhance global governance to jointly meet challenges, carry out peopleto-people exchanges to support BRICS cooperation and make institutional improvements and build broader partnerships.

Deputy director of the Academic Steering Committee, Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, Ministry of Commerce, Zhang Jianping, indicated the GDP of the member countries accounting for the world economy rose from 12 to 23 per cent during the past decade.

The percentage of the members’ international trade went up from 11 to 16 per cent, and also the foreign investment experienced an increase from seven to 12 per cent.

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