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BRICS moving toward a brighter future

By Cui Shoufeng | China Daily | Updated: 2017-09-05 08:10

Performances on the gala with a theme of "Setting the Sail for the Future" on Sept 4, 2017 in Xiamen, Fujian province. [Photo/Xinhua]

Editor's note: With "A Stronger Partnership for a Brighter Future" as its theme, the ongoing 9th BRICS Summit in Xiamen, East China's Fujian province, holds a lot of promise for not only consolidating the economic integration of its five member states, but also better global governance. Three experts share their views on the issue with China Daily's Cui Shoufeng. Excerpts follow:

'BRICS Plus' a new mechanism in time

As a multinational body comprising five major emerging economies, BRICS is catching up fast in terms of global governance. Its member states-Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa-have a cumulative population of nearly 3 billion, or 40 percent of the world's total. And on the economic front, BRICS is expected to contribute to 60 percent of global growth in the years to come.

That China and Russia are permanent members of the United Nations Security Council also adds weight to BRICS. With globalization showing signs of change and Western economies' growth slowing down, emerging economies have enough reason to take the lead in improving international rules-making.

But BRICS faces challenges from inside and outside both. The United States doesn't seem ready to accept the rise of emerging powers, because it sees them as major challenges to its global hegemony. To better deal with its internal competition and frictions, therefore, BRICS can invite other members for talks under the "BRICS Plus" mechanism at the appropriate time. But while doing so, the "BRICS Plus" mechanism should rise above regional organizations and avoid controversial expansion that could compromise its efficiency.

Yu Hongjun, former vice-minister of the International Department of the Central Committee of Communist Party of China, and a senior consultant at Pangoal Institution

Emerging economies deserve greater say

BRICS should accord priority to cooperation in order to play a bigger role on the global stage. But this is easier said than done, as global governance consists of a sophisticated structure in which state and non-state actors have different roles to play and obligations to fulfill in line with established rules and unwritten norms.

In this regard, BRICS has a lot to catch up given its limited role as a bloc in negotiating the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Using their leading positions in the developing world, BRICS members should work closely to contribute more to the betterment of other developing countries, be it through financial aid or transfer of technology. They could even consider establishing a temporary, voluntary fund to help the least-developed economies.

BRICS should also strive to restart the stalled Doha Round of World Trade Organization negotiations. But for that, BRICS members have to first reach a consensus among themselves on issues such as subsidies for agricultural products, market entry and protection of intellectual property rights.

Also, the five BRICS members have every reason to push for the reform of the Bretton Woods institutions, in which developing countries don't have a proportionate say, because International Monetary Fund managing directors and World Bank presidents have always been chosen from Europe and the US, respectively, which in today's world is tantamount to denying the contribution of the emerging economies to global growth.

Jiang Shixue, a distinguished professor at Shanghai University

Enough reason for all members to cooperate

Despite the enhanced coordination between the BRICS economies, they are not always on the same page on the importance of an intra-bloc cooperative mechanism.

Given that BRICS states are at different stages of economic development, China's economic status could prompt the other four members to feel marginalized. Last year China's GDP accounted for about 60 percent that of the US, 2.5 times of Japan, five times of India and eight times of Russia. In short, China today accounts for almost 66 percent of the BRICS economy, 16 percent more than just a decade ago.

Besides, India seems to be focusing on "relative gains" by trying to polarize Asian economies and compete with the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative. Formulated three years ago, India's "Neighborhood First" policy is likely to overshadow the Belt and Road projects in South Asia despite Beijing gaining influence in the region.

Given their shared identity as the world's leading emerging economies, BRICS members should work harder to deepen and diversify their economic cooperation. The establishment of the BRICS New Development Bank is arguably the most notable achievement of the bloc so far, which would not have been possible without the five countries' shared pursuit of optimizing the multilateral trade mechanism under the WTO framework.

Besides, the rise of trade protectionism in the some Western countries has given BRICS economies all the more reason to work together and complement global financial institutions.

Lin Minwang, a researcher at the Institute of International Studies, Fudan University, Shanghai

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