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Updated: April 14, 2011 02:23 IST

BRICS panel to intensify economic links

Sandeep Dikshit
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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh being welcomed at Phoenix Airport in Sanya, China on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh being welcomed at Phoenix Airport in Sanya, China on Tuesday.

The Economic and Trade Ministers of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) nations have decided to set up a liaison group to intensify cooperation and pledged to oppose trade protectionism.

This will mean examining the current state of economic cooperation and trade among the five countries and evaluating future trends.

A report being prepared will suggest specific measures to expand cooperation between the BRICS nations as well as among developing countries.

The report was complete but will be reopened to include South Africa, which is the latest entrant to what was a four-nation grouping.

“This consensus indicates a concrete step in institutional building of deepened business cooperation of the BRICS countries,” China Development Bank President Chen Yuan told journalists after the BRICS Economic and Trade Ministers' meeting, which is a new addition at the summit.

Besides Mr. Chen, the meeting was attended by Minister of Commerce and Industry Anand Sharma, South African Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies, Brazilian Deputy Foreign Minister Carneiro Leao, and Russian Vice-Minister of Economic Development Oleg Fomichev.

The Ministers felt global economic recovery was fragile and could suffer a setback due to the unrest in West Asia and North Africa and Japan's earthquake and tsunami.

Although the BRICS nations were emerging as pacemakers in global economic recovery, they too were facing the pressure of inflation.

The Ministers also reiterated their support for Russia to join the World Trade Organisation in 2011.

They wanted BRICS to strengthen communication and coordination in the Group of 20, climate change negotiations, development cooperation and other multilateral arenas so that the interests of developing countries would be better upheld, said Mr. Chen said.

Xinhua quoted Mr. Chen as saying that BRICS should attempt more local currency settlement and lending to facilitate the countries' economic growth. As trade and investment among the BRICS countries grew rapidly over the past years, greater use of local currency in trade settlement and more loans would be beneficial to all, Mr. Chen said at a forum before the BRICS Leaders Meeting scheduled for Thursday.

“This will facilitate foreign trade and investment among the five countries and help promote a diversified development of the global monetary system,” he said.

This issue is expected to come up at the BRICS summit beginning on Thursday, and a Memorandum of Understanding on the issue seems to be on the cards, Indian government officials said.

The Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES), Russia's State Corporation Bank for Development and Foreign Economic Affairs, the Export-Import Bank of India, and the China Development Bank already established an inter-bank cooperative mechanism last year.

The Development Bank of Southern Africa joined the mechanism on Wednesday.

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