GIVINGBRICS ahigh­five

Amidst on­go­ing global eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal chal­lenges, mem­ber coun­tries are in­creas­ingly be­com­ing a strong voice for de­vel­op­ing na­tions

ChinAfrica - - Cover Story -

THE five mem­bers of BRICS bring their col­lec­tive clout to Xiamen in Septem­ber as the charm­ing city in south­east China hosts the Ninth BRICS Sum­mit. Xiamen is one of the first cities in the coun­try to open up to the rest of the world, and the place where Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping served as vice mayor for three years.

“Many scoffed when Jim O’neill (then chief econ­o­mist of Gold­man Sachs) first coined the con­cept in 2001, but the idea grad­u­ally de­vel­oped into a con­crete co­op­er­a­tion mech­a­nism,” said Ni Jian­jun, Deputy Di­rec­tor of the World Econ­omy In­sti­tute at the China In­sti­tutes of Con­tem­po­rary In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions in Bei­jing. “Against the back­drop of the slug­gish world econ­omy, it is eas­ier for BRICS coun­tries to get a stronger growth mo­men­tum backed by the co­op­er­a­tion plat­form.”

To­day, BRICS coun­tries - Brazil, Rus­sia, In­dia, China and South Africa - are home to 3.6 bil­lion peo­ple, 43 per­cent of the world’s pop­u­la­tion, and a com­bined GDP ac­count­ing for 23 per­cent of the gross world prod­uct. 5.1 per­cent, higher than the av­er­age global growth of 3.1 per­cent, ac­cord­ing to In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund (IMF) data. In the past decade, the group’s share in global GDP grew from 12 per­cent to 23 per­cent and to­day, its con­tri­bu­tion to world eco­nomic growth is more than 50 per­cent.

“BRICS will con­tinue to be a growth en­gine of the world econ­omy de­spite dif­fi­cul­ties and chal­lenges,” Chi­nese Fi­nance Min­is­ter Xiao Jie told re­porters at the sec­ond BRICS Fi­nance Min­is­ters and Cen­tral Bank Gov­er­nors Meet­ing in Shang­hai in June.

As China en­joys a strong, dy­namic in­dus­trial base, it has be­come a much sought-af­ter source of im­ports for other BRICS mem­bers, which in­ad­ver­tently leads to con­sid­er­able amounts of trade sur­plus with them. That is why, when con­tin­u­ing to pro­vide de­sired prod­ucts to other mem­ber na­tions, China is also seek­ing more ways to in­crease im­ports through the BRICS plat­form to bal­ance its in­ter­na­tional pay­ments.

Chi­nese Vice Com­merce Min­is­ter Wang Shouwen said ear­lier this year that China will in­crease im­ports of agri­cul­tural prod­ucts from Brazil, med­i­cal items from In­dia and en­ergy prod­ucts from Rus­sia. South African wine is also wel­come in China.

In the first half of this year, China’s im­ports from other BRICS coun­tries were worth $70.16 bil­lion, a

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