Leaders of the BRICS group of emerging economies on Wednesday criticised what they view as politically motivated protectionism at a time of a global slowdown and said their countries are doing their best to counter the trend.
At their annual summit, the leaders of China, Russia, India, Brazil and South Africa called for greater inter-BRICS trade and investment and urged the group’s New Development Bank to pump more funding into infrastructure and sustainable growth.
“Protectionist and bullying counter-currents bring shocks to international trade, adding to downward pressure on the world economy,” Chinese President Xi Jinping, whose country is locked in a trade war with the United States, told the summit in Brazil.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said global growth rates have been declining without interruption since the beginning of 2018 and will reach the lowest point in 10 years, citing International Monetary Fund forecasts.
“The BRICS countries are making considerable contributions to support growth,” Putin said.
“The global economy has been influenced by the wide usage of unfair competition in trade, unilateral sanctions, including those that are politically motivated, and protectionism is flourishing,” Putin said.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his country aims to be a $5 trillion economy by 2024, up from 2.6 trillion in 2018. He said that BRICS targets for investment and trade must be more ambitious and welcomed suggestions to further reduce trade costs.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said Brazil is recovering international confidence but needs more economic reforms to create a more attractive business atmosphere for investors.
A meeting between Bolsonaro and Xi earlier in the day showcased how far relations have come since last year. Bolsonaro repeatedly bashed China in the lead up to last October’s elections in Brazil, creating concerns that he could disrupt BRICS, one of the world’s biggest trading partnerships.