BRICS Business Forum is taking place in South Africa ahead of the meeting of the Heads of State of the five countries
The panel sessions are attended by representatives of governments of different countries, relevant ministries and agencies
On Tuesday, 22 August, the BRICS Business Forum took place at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, Gauteng Province, where international business and government leaders will gather to discuss a broad agenda: the current state of cooperation in trade and investment between the BRICS countries and future prospects in this area, ways to stimulate economic recovery in the BRICS countries, building and strengthening inter-regional ties, establishing a favourable business environment, harmonizing trade regulations, as reported by TV BRICS.
Five panel sessions were held during the forum: “Collaboration and cooperation: unlocking BRICS trade and investment opportunities”, “BRICS agriculture in focus”, “Delivering on a just transition”, “The BRICS entrepreneurial opportunity & market access as a key enabler for smmes” and “BRICS in Africa: unlocking opportunities through the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCFTA)”.
South Africa’s Minister of Trade and Industry, Ebrahim Patel, in his welcome address, said of the rapidly changing global agenda.
“Just five years ago, this city founded on gold, hosted the 10th BRICS Summit in the year 2018, in what seems like a different age in a different world, on that day, just 1850 days ago, the world appeared simpler, less volatile, less uncertain, friendlier. It had not yet encountered the damage of the COVID pandemic, nor the deepest recession since the Second World War,” he noted.
Patel stated the urgency of climate change issues as well as the rapidly increasing speed of technological innovation.
“And these trends, are reshaping our economies and our societies in profound ways, more profound ways than many of us could project. Add to these changes the fast shift in the locus of economic activity from the traditional northern centers to the new industrial engines of the East and the South, beginning to mirror the true demographics of the world,” noted the Minister.
Fernando Haddad, Minister of Finance of Brazil, addressing the audience, emphasised his country’s focus on a green economy and green industry. He noted that Brazil’s policies make climate issues, environmental issues a priority and this has a major impact on the development of industry and agriculture as well.
“Brazil intends to become a source of clean energy for its own needs because it intends to reindustrialise. The country intends to export clean energy, and also in the form of green products. Brazil wants to be a platform for exporting green steel, green aluminium, many products that require clean energy to produce”
Fernando Haddad Minister of Finance of Brazil
Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce and Industry, Republic of India, speaking on strengthening ties within the bloc, remarked, “BRICS member nations can come together through the BRICS Women Business Alliance can serve as a powerful force to promote gender equality.”
He praised the contribution of the BRICS Business Forum to the development of economic relations among the bloc’s member countries. And also noted that the forum allows sharing joint achievements in a variety of areas: economics, finance, in the field of innovation and in the experience of responding to the ever-changing conditions of the global agenda.
“I guess the opportunity to harness the immense trade and investment potential as that lies in the emerging markets is available for us to do and help our economies,” said Goyal.
This was followed by a panel discussion on “Collaboration and cooperation: unlocking BRICS trade and investment opportunities”. Among the speakers was Sergey Katyrin, Chairman of the Russian part of the BRICS Business Council and President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation (CCI).
Speaking about the potential for economic development of the bloc’s member countries, he explained, “The most important potential is in normal, honest human and working relationships with people. It is wonderful to realise that our relations with the people with whom we signed the Charter of the BRICS Business Council ten years ago have not only been preserved, but are actively developing”.
According to Katyrin, exactly these relations enable fruitful work and joint decision-making.
Characterising the bloc’s economy, Katyrin hopes that by 2050, the balance of power on the world stage will change dramatically and the BRICS alliance will have a huge competitive advantage.
Shaogang Zhang, Vice-Chairman of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT), speaking at the session, focused on the development of China’s SMEs and their role in the economy: “SME in China accounted for 50% of our taxation, 60% of our national GDP, 70% of our innovation, 80% of our employment. It is the backbone of our economy. However, SMEs can be very diversified.”
Zhang outlined measures that he believes the government should take, including creating a favourable environment for SMEs, such as tax preferences; optimising land policy and, finally, creating an educational environment for SMEs so that they can keep up to date with the latest developments in science, economics, finance and respond quickly to changing circumstances, science and technology.
The BRICS Summit is taking place in Johannesburg (Gauteng, South Africa) from 22 to 24 August. It is the most representative meeting of heads of state and government of the global South in recent years. Leaders of 54 African countries have responded to the invitations. According to the Kremlin press service, the final agreements will be recorded in the Johannesburg Declaration of the XV BRICS Summit.
Photo: TV BRICS