September 11-17, 2017
By KARL WILSON in Sydney
In the East China city of Xiamen on Sept 4, President Xi Jinping proudly declared that the ninth summit of the BRICS countries had opened the bloc’s second “Golden Decade”.
He urged leaders of the five BRICS nations — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — to “join hands” and usher in the second Golden Decade of BRICS cooperation and deliver greater benefits to the people of “our five countries and around the world”.
In the same speech, at the summit’s plenary session, Xi set the tone for the Sept 3-5 gathering on the coast of Fujian province when he said: “We need to make the international order more just and equitable.”
He said the BRICS countries should “speak with one voice” to jointly present their solutions to global problems, safeguard common interests and oppose the growing tide of protectionism.
Analysts agreed, adding that BRICS has given a new voice to the developing world.
Louis Kuijs, head of Asia economics at Oxford Economics in Hong Kong, said: “The one thing the BRICS have in common is that they are not rich or advanced economies.
“Together they present quite a solid voice on the world stage. You could say together they represent the voice of the developing world.
“While the G20 (the Group of 20 leading industrialized and emerging economies) has both rich and poor nations, it has reduced the relevance of the G7, leaving the way open for the BRICS.”
Kuijs said the fact that Xi and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi were able to talk about their “differences” was an “achievement” in itself.
However, he also voiced some concern about the ability of the BRICS nations to avoid becoming protectionist, and cited India as an example of where protectionist sentiment is strong.
Protectionism, free trade, security, mutual respect and cooperation in many fields including trade and development were central themes at the Xiamen summit, under the banner: Stronger Partnership for a Brighter Future.
This year China also adopted a “BRICS Plus” approach by inviting leaders from Egypt, Guinea, Mexico, Tajikistan and Thailand to attend the summit.
The goal was for “a more broadly based partnership”, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Sept 6.
The summit produced an impressive joint declaration — the Xiamen Declaration. It was signed by Xi and all other BRICS leaders: Brazil’s President Michel Temer, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Modi and South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma.
Xi described it as the “new blueprint for strengthening BRICS partnerships and deepening practical cooperation”.
Wang Huiyao, president of the Center for China and Globalization, said the Xiamen Declaration sends a clear message that the BRICS nations believe in an open trade agenda.
“The BRICS nations have firmly rejected the protectionist position being taken by the US and fully support open trade. This is a very important message,” Wang said.
Rajiv Biswas, Asia-Pacific chief economist with consultancy IHS Markit, identified a number of positives that came from the summit. Some were in the areas of economic cooperation, such as the BRICS Action Agenda on Economic and Trade Cooperation and the BRICS Trade in Services Cooperation Roadmap.
“An important focus of the ninth summit was to develop an action program of people-to-people exchanges among BRICS countries,” Biswas said.
He said another important focus was the report on the BRICS-led New Development Bank (NDB) on its first year of operations, with total project loans of around $3 billion having already been approved.
Biswas said the BRICS grouping, led by China, has “been a key driver for growth in world trade and investment flows over the past decade”.
“In the face of rising protectionism in some parts of the world, BRICS can champion new initiatives for trade liberalization and development cooperation to boost South-South trade and investment flows and strengthen economic cooperation for sustainable development,” he added.
During his press briefing on Sept 5 at the end of the summit, Xi said BRICS leaders believe it is in their common interest to deepen political and security cooperation, and “this is also what the international community expects us to do”.
The Xiamen Declaration reflects the desire of all five nations to boost cooperation, foster a just and equitable global economic order, safeguard world peace and promote people-to-people exchanges.
It was “the overarching objective and our desire for peace, security, development and cooperation that brought us together 10 years ago”, the leaders said in the declaration.
“BRICS countries have since traversed a remarkable journey together on their respective development paths tailored to their national circumstances, devoted to growing their economies and improving people’s livelihoods.
“Our committed and concerted efforts have generated a momentum of all-dimensional and multi-layered cooperation fostered by the previous leaders’ summits.
“Upholding development and multilateralism, we are working together for a more just, equitable, fair, democratic and representative international political and economic order,” they said.
Addressing the summit leaders earlier, Xi said that although the five countries have different “national conditions”, their pursuit of partnership and prosperity is shared, enabling them to go beyond disagreement and achieve mutual benefits.
Noting that only 5.7 percent of the BRICS countries’ total $197 billion in outbound investment took place among the five countries last year, Xi said there remains huge potential for economic cooperation among the BRICS members.
The president pointed out that the “gold content” of BRICS has been rising constantly in recent years along with such measures as boosting services trade, facilitating investment, initiating e-commerce cooperation, and strengthening ties on innovation.
The five countries should increase cooperation in sectors such as trade and investment, monetary and financial areas, connectivity, sustainable development, innovation and industrial cooperation, Xi said.
“We should speak with one voice and jointly present our solutions to issues concerning international peace and development,” Xi said, adding that many pressing global challenges cannot be resolved effectively without the participation of BRICS countries.
“We hope that through our joint efforts, these activities will take place regularly and be institutionalized,” he said.
The Xiamen Declaration stressed greater trade and investment cooperation, including in services and e-commerce.
The declaration also stressed the importance of enhancing BRICS financial cooperation “to better serve the real economy and meet the development needs of BRICS countries”.
The bloc agreed to “explore convergence of accounting standards” in bond issuance.
“We agree to promote the development of BRICS Local Currency Bond Markets and jointly establish a BRICS Local Currency Bond Fund, as a means of contribution to the capital sustainability of financing in BRICS countries, boosting the development of BRICS domestic and regional bond markets, including by increasing foreign private sector participation, and enhancing financial resilience of BRICS countries,” the group said in the declaration.
Founded in 2006, the bloc accounts for roughly 40 percent of the world’s population, more than 50 percent of world growth (driven mainly by China and India) and 23 percent of global GDP.
While some critics may have questioned the viability of the bloc, it has nevertheless managed to shift the global power balance toward the developing world, and has won a bigger say in global economic discussions at the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.
“There is enormous potential for cooperation in trade, investment, finance and infrastructure among the five countries,” Jiang Zengwei, head of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, told Xinhua News Agency.
Jiang cited factors including huge markets, rich natural resources, economic disparities, favorable policies and active businesses.
“Uncertainties and unstable factors exist, but opportunities outshine challenges,” he said.
The NDB, launched in Shanghai in July 2015, has become firmly established. On Aug 30, just before the Xiamen summit, the bank announced $1.4 billion in new loans for sustainable development projects in China, India and Russia.
In his address to the summit, Xi urged members to “forge unity” and to “jointly advance solutions for international peace and development”.
“A partnership forged with the right approach defies geographical distance; it is thicker than glue and stronger than metal and stone,” Xi said, quoting an ancient Chinese proverb.
Xi: Emerging nations deserve role President pledges further aid and training opportunities to help developing countries continue growth trend
September 11-17, 2017
By AN BAIJIE in Xiamen, Fujian
President Xi Jinping called for efforts to enhance the representation and voice of emerging market and developing countries in global economic governance as their contributions to global growth have increased. Xi was speaking on Sept 5 while presiding over the Dialogue of Emerging Market and Developing Countries on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit in the coastal city of Xiamen, in East China’s Fujian province.
The dialogue was attended by leaders from BRICS — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — and five other developing countries, which are Egypt, Guinea, Mexico, Tajikistan and Thailand.
In his speech, Xi pledged to provide $500 million in aid to help developing nations address challenges on issues such as famine, refugees, climate change and public health.
The aid promise marked another strong action by China in its pursuit of common development among BRICS nations. It came a day after Xi announced that China was setting aside 500 million yuan ($77 million) for economic and technological cooperation and exchanges among BRICS countries.
China will also provide other developing countries with 40,000 training opportunities in China in the coming year as a measure to help foster exchanges of governance experiences among developing countries.
Xi said that the emerging markets and developing countries should make joint efforts to build an open world economy, support a multilateral trade system and push for inclusive, common and beneficial economic globalization.
“I’m confident that this dialogue will strengthen the solidarity and cooperation among emerging and developing countries, and also contribute to building the BRICS mechanism,” Xi said.
Calling the collective rise of the emerging market and developing countries “an irreversible trend of our times”, Xi said these countries have made great contributions to the global economy in recent years, accounting for 80 percent of growth last year.
“They are worthy of the reputation of being the main engine of global growth,” Xi said.
The president said development remains the top priority of these countries. He added that as the United Nations considers reforming its development system, developing nations should push forward reform, focus on development and bring more input to truly serve their own needs.
“We need to urge developed countries to honor their commitment to increase support to developing countries in line with principles such as the one featuring common but differentiated responsibilities,” Xi said.
The dialogue is a practice to implement the China-proposed “BRICS Plus” cooperation approach, which aims to get more developing countries involved in cooperation and mutual benefits.
Highlights of the Xiamen Declaration
September 11-17, 2017
1. BRICS countries will strive toward broad partnerships with emerging markets and developing countries, and pursue equal-footed and flexible practices and initiatives for dialogue and cooperation with non-BRICS countries, including through BRICS Plus cooperation.
2. We welcome the creation of the BRICS E-Port Network and the establishment of the BRICS E-Commerce Working Group. We also welcome China’s initiative to host the International Import Expo in 2018.
3. We agree to promote the development of BRICS local currency bond markets and to jointly establish a BRICS local currency bond fund.
4. We agree to facilitate financial market integration.
5. We encourage explorations toward the establishment of the BRICS Institute of Future Networks. We will enhance joint BRICS research, development and innovation in information and communications technology, including the Internet of Things, cloud computing, big data, data analytics, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, 5G and their innovative applications.
6. We commit to strengthen BRICS cooperation on energy. We will work to foster open, flexible and transparent markets for energy commodities and technologies.
7. We welcome the establishment in India of a coordination center for the BRICS Agriculture Research Platform.
8. We agree to better leverage the benefits of capital flows and to manage the risks stemming from excessive cross-border capital flows and fluctuation.
9. We note Brazil’s proposal to establish the BRICS Intelligence Forum.
10. China and Russia reiterate the importance they attach to the status and role of Brazil, India and South Africa in international affairs, and support their aspiration to play a greater role in the United Nations.
11. We strongly deplore the nuclear test conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
12. We call upon the international community to establish a genuinely broad counterterrorism coalition and support the UN’s central coordinating role in this regard.
13. We emphasize the importance of people-to-people exchanges in promoting development and enhancing mutual understanding, friendship and cooperation among BRICS peoples.
Creating a stronger China-India relationship Xi, Modi say both countries must focus on ties while maintaining peace in the border region
September 11-17, 2017
By AN BAIJIE in Xiamen, Fujian
China and India should maintain peace and tranquility along their border region, President Xi Jinping told Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sept 5, and he called for mutual respect between the world’s two largest developing countries.
Each should adhere to the basic thought that both countries present development opportunities rather than threats for the other, Xi said at the meeting on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit in Xiamen, East China’s Fujian province.
China hopes India will maintain a proper and reasonable attitude toward China’s development, Xi said, adding that the two should seek common ground while reserving their differences.
The two countries should show the world that peaceful coexistence and cooperation for mutual benefit is the only correct choice for China and India, he said.
The president pointed out that healthy and stable relations between China and India are in line with the fundamental interests of their peoples.
China is willing to work with India on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence put forward by both countries to improve political mutual trust, promote cooperation and push Sino-Indian ties along the right track, he said.
Noting that there is great potential for China-India cooperation in social and economic development, Xi said the two should connect development strategies, expand infrastructure cooperation, boost exchanges of people and enhance global affairs coordination.
Modi congratulated Xi on the summit’s success, saying it has great significance for the BRICS cooperation in the current economic situation.
India and China should not regard each other as opponents, but make cooperation the centerpiece of their relations, Modi said, adding that both sides should jointly maintain the peace and tranquility of the border region.
India is willing to make joint efforts with China to ensure stable development of bilateral relations, and the leaders of both countries should maintain close communication to guide the bilateral relations, he added.
Sun Hongnian, a researcher of international relations at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Xi focused on the prospects of China-India cooperation and highlighted the momentum of ties among the two. “The world is large enough to make China and India gain common development,” he said.
Lan Jianxue, a researcher of South Asian studies at the China Institute of International Studies, said China and India should focus on the convergence of their interests.
Zhou Jin contributed to this story.
Deeper into the blue for growth Oceans and the sustainable development of marine economy sectors are strategically important to BRICS countries
September 11-17, 2017
By ZHONG NAN in Xiamen
The marine or “blue” economy will become a new growth engine for BRICS countries to narrow the gap with developed economies, especially in areas that demand cutting-edge technology, modern infrastructure and advanced machinery, business leaders said on Sept 4.
“The oceans are strategically important to BRICS countries — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. A part of their development potential lies in the oceans, if they are sustainably developed over the next decade,” said Chen Fenjian, president of China Communications Construction Co.
The marine economy has been dominated by shipping, fishing, aquaculture, and oil and gas. It now includes sectors such as marine chemistry, biomedicine, ocean power, seawater use, marine tourism, ocean engineering and construction.
BRICS countries, with their long coasts and vast maritime territory, are seeking to gain significant economic advantages from the sea through these and other pursuits.
“Russia is learning from China’s years of progress in developing its economy through modern ports, maritime research institutes and international cooperation,” said Alexei Chekunkov, chief executive officer of Russia’s Far East Development Fund.
Eager to diversify its earning ability, the Russian fund plans to develop such things as the ocean tourism, mining and fishery industries by 2025.
As a first step, BRICS countries should intensify their cooperation in ports, shipping and ocean-related infrastructure businesses to further stimulate trade and investment activities, said Li Jianhong, chairman of China Merchants Group. Ocean shipping is also cheaper and more environmentally friendly than trains or air cargo services.
Trade volume between China and other BRICS countries grew by 26 percent year-on-year to $167.07 billion in the first seven months of this year, and the majority of these goods were transported by sea, according to the General Administration of Customs.
However, challenges remain. Marcelo Veloso, commercial director of Port Acu, Brazil, said BRICS countries urgently need to improve port efficiency to boost shipping and cut waste in material and labor costs. Many port facilities in Brazil need to be upgraded and are looking for financing opportunities from other BRICS economies.
“Adequately developing the marine economy will help solve employment problems and also address the issue of raw materials shortages, thereby spurring economic activity and boosting trade flows,” said Yu Jianlong, secretary-general of the Beijing-based China Chamber of International Commerce.
“BRICS countries need to develop a new policy for the marine sector to tackle pollution, excessive development, smuggling and terrorism on the sea,” he said.
Peng hosts leaders’ wives at AIDS event in Xiamen China’s first lady and spouses of BRICS officials attend exhibition on health program for students
September 11-17, 2017
By LI XIAOKUN
Wives of the leaders of nations who traveled to Xiamen, East China’s Fujian province, for the ninth BRICS Summit and related meetings, accompanied Peng Liyuan, wife of President Xi Jinping, on Sept 5 at an event to educate college students about AIDS.
At Xiamen University, the guests visited an exhibition on HIV/AIDS prevention and control, and listened to a briefing on efforts made by the Chinese government and universities.
Peng, often greeted by Chinese children as Mother Peng, has long been involved in activities related to HIV/AIDS prevention and other health matters. She was appointed as a World Health Organization goodwill ambassador for tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS in 2011.
In China, she became the health ambassador for HIV/AIDS prevention for the Ministry of Health in 2006.
“Today we attend an event to promote awareness of preventing and fighting AIDS in the whole of society, especially among young people, eliminating discrimination against AIDS patients and getting spiritually vaccinated,” Peng said.
At the same time, China will deepen cooperation in that regard with BRICS nations and developing countries, she said.
An official from the National Health and Family Planning Commission told visitors that with Peng’s support in HIV/AIDS prevention, activities have taken place at more than 50 Chinese universities. They have drawn crowds of student volunteers as well as celebrities.
The visitors spoke highly of China’s efforts after learning about the achievements of Xiamen University’s HIV detection and diagnosis programs and talking with volunteers.
The guests also attended a UNESCO awards ceremony at the university on the education of girls and women.
Projects from Thailand, Peru and South Africa won this year’s awards.
Irina Bokova, director general of UNESCO, expressed her appreciation for China’s many contributions to international cooperation in that field, as well as the efforts of Peng, UNESCO’s special envoy for the advancement of girls’ and women’s education.
It is a tradition of the Chinese nation to emphasize education, Peng said. She added that people should help women and children in need to enable them to “have the chance and capabilities to change their fate and live a better life”.
Universities form league to tap talent Rise in exchange of scholars and links between higher education institutions of member nations
September 11-17, 2017
By ZHAO XINYING
The BRICS University League is forging closer educational bonds among the group’s five countries — an example of cooperation that has borne fruit in recent years.
The idea of establishing a league of universities was first put forward by educators from nine higher education institutions in China and Russia in July 2013, when the International Academic Conference and Seminars on BRICS Studies unfolded in Shanghai.
Officially launched in Beijing in October 2015, the league aims to boost higher education cooperation and people-to-people exchanges among the five members of BRICS — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — said Wang Lei, director of the Center for Cooperation Among BRICS Members at Beijing Normal University, where the secretariat of the league is located.
“By enabling more visits and exchanges of students, researchers and scholars from BRICS universities, the league helps diversify global talent movement — not only from developing countries to developed ones, as has always happened, but also to other developing countries, including BRICS members,” Wang said.
“I believe this will be very meaningful to BRICS members, as it will bring a precious fortune of intelligence to these countries.”
Chen Baosheng, China’s education minister, said the past decade has seen educational ties between BRICS members becoming increasingly close.
“Last year, more than 40,000 students from BRICS countries were studying in China, accounting for almost 10 percent of all overseas students in the country. Meanwhile, about 13,000 Chinese students were studying in BRICS member nations,” he said, adding that China had approved 152 education institutions or programs with those countries as of May.
In a declaration signed by the education ministers of BRICS countries in Beijing in early July, the five member nations agreed to continue taking measures to strengthen multilateral exchanges and cooperation on education, including encouraging universities to participate in the BRICS University League.
According to Wang, 43 universities from the five BRICS countries — including prestigious ones such as Peking University and Fudan University in China and Saint Petersburg State University in Russia — have joined the league so far.
By staying in communication with more than 10 other university alliances, and by bridging transnational and interdisciplinary research, the league is trying to attract more institutions to join.
Marking the end of hyper globalization Rise of protectionism around the world makes it tougher now for emerging markets to export their way to prosperity, says economic guru
September 11-17, 2017
By ANDREW MOODY
One of the major problems facing emerging nations, according to Ruchir Sharma, is an increasing retreat from globalization across the world.
The head of emerging markets and chief global strategist at Morgan Stanley Investment Management said they had all been beneficiaries of the opening up of world trade before the global financial crisis.
“Many of these countries had export growth of 20 percent or more every year, and they were able to export their way to prosperity.
“They can no longer do this. Even though global trade volumes picked up a bit last year, the era of hyper globalization of the 1980s, 1990s and the last decade is over.”
Sharma, author of The Rise and Fall of Nations, which is now published in Chinese, was speaking from New Delhi ahead of the 9th BRICS Summit in Xiamen, in East China’s Fujian province.
He believes this new reality is one of the challenges facing the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, which make up the BRICS grouping.
“The protectionist compulsion is here to stay. I do feel in that environment it will be much more difficult for emerging markets now to export their way to prosperity,” he said.
Sharma, however, argues that the growth models of many of the BRICS nations have changed dramatically since the global financial crisis, with many of them now driven by companies in new industry sectors. This is particularly the case in China, with its tech giants such as Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu increasingly dominant.
“If you look at some of the emerging market indices, the weight of technology companies in them is comparable with that of the United States. This is the reality of the new sort of emerging market that has emerged after the downturn.”
The economics guru, who is also a regular columnist at The New York Times, said the leaders of the BRICS nations — who met for their discussions on Sept 3-5 — face a very different economic world than when the organization was formed in 2006.
“With countries like Brazil and Russia, there is no longer talk of growing at 4 or 5 percent. They have resigned themselves to the fact that if they can get to 2 or 3 percent, it’s a pretty good achievement.
“And despite there once being talk of India being the next China and growing at even 10 percent a year, there is a new realism setting in, and if it can achieve 7 percent that would be OK.”
The organization’s most notable achievements are the establishment of the Shanghai-based New Development Bank (also known as the BRICS bank), which signed its first loan agreement last year; and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement, a financial mechanism that protects members against fluctuations in their currencies.
“I think the problem for BRICS is that it is all over the map with its members so geographically dispersed. China is also in a different league to the other members, with its economy five times larger than India, the next biggest economy.
“We are living in a G2 world with only two economic superpowers, the US and China, that can really determine the shape of the global economy.”
Sharma, 43, who was born in Jaipur, India, and studied at the Shri Ram College of Commerce in Delhi, began his career working as an economist at Prime Securities, a securities trading company, in the Indian capital.
He combined this with writing a column for The Economic Times of India, drawing the attention of Morgan Stanley, which hired him to work in Mumbai in 1996. He switched to the New York office six years later, where he has remained ever since.
His first book, Breakout Nations: In Pursuit of the Next Economic Miracles, which was published in 2012 and became an international best-seller, concluded that despite the hype around them, many of the emerging market economies would fail to break out of the middle-income trap.
The one exception he cited was China, which he said would be the one that would make the grade as a high-income economy. The Chinese government has set itself the target to achieve this by 2020, before the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China.
Sharma said the one thing that has changed since the previous BRICS Summit, last October in Goa, India, has been renewed confidence in the Chinese economy.
“All the concerns then were about the Chinese economy slowing down too much. Since then, the narrative has changed because the Chinese economy has once again stabilized and is now slightly accelerating.”
He said China’s growth has been against a backdrop of a much-improved global outlook.
“One of the biggest stories this year has been the comeback of Europe, with growth of 2.5 percent in the second quarter. Germany is doing really well and there is confidence in places such as France, particularly following the election.
“Europe is essentially doing better because it has suffered two recessions in the past seven years, which is highly unusual for any economy, so there is a lot of catching up to do.”
Sharma, who was named as one of the top 50 most influential people in the world by Bloomberg Markets in 2015, said the BRICS Summit in Xiamen was taking place at a time when the distinction between developed and emerging countries is no longer that clear.
“There is a blurring that is happening and it is becoming country-by-country specific. You have got countries like South Korea, and Slovakia and Poland in Europe, that are on the cusp of being classified as developed markets. Some people already consider them that way.
“What we should be interested in from now on is which are the faster growing economies rather than whether they are developed or emerging. I think it is irrelevant.”
Sharma said one of the problems BRICS faces is that it is a grouping that excludes many key emerging nations.
“It is a concept based on a cute acronym and is made up of all the emerging markets that were doing well a decade ago. You have many other countries that could legitimately claim to be part of such a group.
“These would include Mexico, and in Africa, Nigeria and Kenya would be very much in contention, as would Malaysia, Indonesia and Turkey in other parts of the world.”
He said emerging markets are no longer the driver of the global economy as they were when BRICS was created.
“In the last decade there were about 70-odd emerging nations that were growing at a pace of more than 5 percent. Now there are only about 20 to 25 that are growing above that pace.”
As he argues in his latest book, The Rise and Fall of Nations, one of the brakes on global growth is demographics and, in particular, a decline in the number of people of working age.
“The world population increased very sharply in the postwar period everywhere, from China and India to the United States. Now the demographic surge is fading, with about 40 economies around the world today where the working age population is shrinking, with China obviously being one of them.”
Despite the political turbulence in the US, Sharma said the country’s economy remains strong.
“The economy is getting on fine. That is one of the beauties of the American economy. It shows you what being a developed economy is really all about. Politics may impact on the dinner party conversations, but it has a very limited impact on the economy.”
He said that anti-globalization is not just rhetoric coming from Donald Trump’s White House, but a much wider trend that will affect emerging markets and, in particular, the BRICS nations.
“Exporting has been the biggest mantra for success for these countries, but this will no longer be the case. They will have to deal with this new reality.”