Five of the biggest emerging economies on Thursday stood by the multilateral system and vowed to strengthen economic cooperation in the face of US tariff threats and unilateralism. The heads of the so-called Brics – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – met for an annual summit dominated by the risk of a global US- led trade war, although leaders did not publicly mention President Donald Trump by name.
“We express concern at the spill-over effects of macro-economic policy measures in some major advanced economies,” they said in joint statement.
“We recognize that the multilateral trading system is facing unprecedented challenges. We underscore the importance of an open world economy.”
Trump has said he is ready to impose tariffs on all US$500 billion of Chinese imports, complaining that China’s trade surplus with the US is due to unfair currency manipulation.
He has already slapped levies on goods from China worth tens of billions of dollars, as well as tariffs on steel and aluminum from the EU, Canada and Mexico.
“We should stay committed to multilateralism,” China’s President Xi Jinping said on the second day of the talks.
“Closer economic cooperation for shared prosperity is the original purpose and priority of Brics.” Russian President Vladimir Putin, who held a controversial meeting with Trump last week, echoed the calls for closer ties among Brics members and for stronger trade within group.
“Brics has a unique place in the global economy – this is the largest market in the world, the joint GDP is 42% of the global GDP and it keeps growing,” Putin said.
“In 2017, the trade with our Brics countries has grown 30%, and we are aiming at further developing this kind of partnership.”
The Brics group, comprising more than 40% of the global population, represents some of the biggest emerging economies, but it has struggled to find a unified voice.
Analysts say US trade policy could give the group renewed purpose.