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BRICS meet: China says members expected to rally against protectionism

Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto is set to be in China to discuss trade and investment

Reuters  |  Xiamen, China 

BRICS Summit, Narendra Modi, Xi Jinping
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with President Xi Jinping at the 8th BRICS Summit in Goa, in 2016. (Photo: PTI)

A meeting of the group of emerging economies is expected to rally against trade protectionism, China's vice trade minister said on Sunday, the first day of the summit in southeastern

The heads of state from Brazil, Russia, India, and South Africa will gather in the city of Xiamen through Tuesday, giving as host its latest chance to position itself as a bulwark of globalisation in the face of U.S. President Donald Trump's "America First" agenda.

leaders will be joined by observer countries Thailand, Mexico, Egypt, Guinea and Tajikistan, and officials will discuss a "Plus" plan to possibly expand the bloc to new members.

Among the observers, Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto is set to be in to discuss trade and investment, as has renewed threats to scrap the 23-year-old North American (NAFTA) that he has labelled a killer of US jobs.

"We expect to reach consensus for actions in support of the multilateral trade system and oppose trade protectionism," Vice Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen told a briefing ahead of the opening ceremony for a business meeting, where Chinese President Xi Jinping will speak.

Wang did not elaborate on those actions, but said was interested in possibly establishing a with

In July, Xi called on members of the Group of 20 (G20) nations to champion an open world economy, and as a keynote speaker at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January offered a vigorous defence of globalisation.

But those remarks are cold comfort to some critics of China, foreign business groups and governments alike, who say has done little to remove its own discriminatory policies and market barriers that favour Chinese companies.

The summit comes just a week after and India agreed to end a more than two-month standoff between hundreds of troops in a Himalayan border area, which had put a sidelines meeting between Xi and Indian Prime Minister Narendra in question.

The standoff was the latest example how countries, while sharing certain development goals, are far from unified.

Some have questioned the relevance of and China's commitment to its New Development Bank (NDB) in light of Xi's own global Belt and Road development initiative and the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

Set up in 20l5 as an alternative to the World Bank, the Shanghai-headquartered NDB was seen as the first major achievement after the group came together in 2009 to press for a bigger say in the post-World War Two financial order created by Western powers.

The bank aims to address a massive infrastructure funding gap in the member countries, which account for almost half the world's population and about one-fifth of global economic output.

China's vice finance minister said in a separate briefing that countries had agreed to launch a fund to support future NDB projects, but gave no details.

The NDB's president on Friday said it aims to make about $4 billion in loans next year. To date, it has invested in 11 projects, lending $1.5 billion in 2016 and $2.5 billion in loans set for this year.

First Published: Sun, September 03 2017. 12:25 IST