The Trade and Economic Ministers of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) reviewed the global economic situation on Wednesday at the second BRICS trade ministers’ meeting (in New Delhi).
Noting the continuing economic difficulties faced by many countries, they underscored the need for greater policy coordination to achieve a stable and thriving global economy.
The ministers also emphasised the need to resist protectionist tendencies and to promote international trade as an engine of economic growth and development, while at the same time respecting the WTO’s consistent policy of allowing developing countries to pursue their legitimate objectives of growth, development and stability.
They noted that subsidies in agriculture by some developed countries continue to distort trade and undermine food security and development prospects of developing countries, particularly Lesser Developed Countries (LDCs), and called protectionism to be shunned.
WTO members expressed their deep concern over the current impasse in the Doha Development Round, and reiterated that they remain fully committed to an early conclusion of negotiations based on progress made in the round since 2001.
They expressed their willingness to explore outcomes in specific areas where progress is possible while preserving the centrality of development in the Doha mandate and within the overall framework of the single undertaking. The ministers did not support any plurilateral (multi-national legal or trade agreement) initiatives that go against the fundamental principles of transparency, inclusiveness and multilateralism. They believed that such initiatives not only distract members from striving for a collective outcome, but also fail to address development deficits inherited from previous negotiating rounds.
Reiterating the importance of having an open and rule-based multilateral trading system, the BRIC ministers underlined the central role of the WTO in safeguarding and strengthening the rules with specific reference to the concerns of developing countries, and in particular, LDCs.
Welcoming Russia’s determination to participate in a constructive and active manner in the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) negotiations once full membership is attained, the ministers agreed to coordinate their positions at the WTO and in other multilateral fora such as the forthcoming meeting of the G-20 trade ministers.
The BRICS trade ministers also said that they were looking forward to United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) XIII next month in Doha, reaffirming the important role of UNCTAD in the area of trade, development and inter-related issues and believe that its mandate should be maintained and strengthened. The ministers took note of the discussions in the Contact Group on Economic and Trade Issues (CGETI) on Russia’s proposal for setting up a BRICS Projects Platforms/ technology pool for joint project development.
Directions were given to respective officials to explore ways to enhance and further intra-BRICS cooperation, especially in the areas of customs cooperation, exchange of experiences in trade facilitation, investment promotion SME cooperation and trade data collection and harmonisation, e-commerce cooperation and intellectual property rights cooperation.
The ministers agreed that officials should work together to ensure that BRICS members enhance their trade, including of higher value added manufactured products, to support industrialisation and employment in their countries.