The BRICS Business Forum (BBF) that got under way here today emphasized the need for cashing in on the comparative advantages of the economies of the BRICS nations and discussed thread bare cooperation in Energy Sector, Infrastructure Development Agri-Business. BBF was organized by BRICS Business Council, FICCI, ASSOCHAM and CII.
At the inaugural session, Mr. Onkar S Kanwar, Chairman, BRICS Business Council (BBC), India Chapter, highlighted the economic strengths of the BRICS nations. Brazil, he said was the largest food producer in the grouping, Russia, a leader in oil and energy, China was the manufacturing hub of the world, India, an IT power and South Africa was rich in mineral resources.
While appreciating the efforts of the working groups, Mr. Kanwar noted that the BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) and the New Development Bank (NDB) were two big achievements of BRICS. The CRA would strengthen the global financial safety and the NDB would help in meeting the development priorities of our economies. The NDB Board has recently approved the first set of projects worth US$ 811 million in the area of renewable energy.
He said that best practices in PPP and long term financing can be shared in the development of infrastructure and smart cities. In agriculture, a platform for developing and sharing models for sustainable agriculture and water conservation has been set up and joint projects on production of pulses can be undertaken. He said that there was cooperation in the field of energy saving technologies and energy efficiency through joint research and technology transfer.
Mr. Kanwar made five recommendations for the consideration of the BRICS governments. These are: BRICS Trade Settlement in Local Currencies: Expand the scope and scale of payments in local currency for intra-BRICS deals and transactions; BRICS Social Security Agreements: BRICS governments should introduce a BRICS Social Security Agreement to avoid dual security contributions; NDB should support an Infrastructure Project Development Facility to prepare bankable projects; BRICS countries should create a BRICS Angels Network which can help unlock the potential of talented young entrepreneurs across BRICS countries and create an eco-system of start-ups, thereby promoting entrepreneurship and innovation and a BRICS Standardization Research Platform should be considered to exchange information on various regulations and standards across BRICS countries for better harmonization and enable removal of trade barriers.
Mr. Jose Rubens de La Rosa, Chairman, BBC, Brazil Chapter, said that the New Development Bank should utilize its fund to develop the infrastructure capabilities in countries like Brazil as it will improve quality of life. The BRICS countries came together as it was the demand of the population of these emerging nations; therefore the potential and strength areas of each country should be explored. Collaborating with each other, synergies could be build to improve trade and investment ties among BRICS countries.
Mr. Sergey Katyrin, Chairman, BBC, Russia Chapter, underlined the need to resolve the issues related to trade barriers to allow free trade and realize the economic potential of the BRICS nations. He added that Russia's carries out 20% trade with India and vice versa. Collaboration has been worked out in oil and gas sector but there is scope for cooperation in other areas as well such as agriculture and pharmaceuticals.
Capt. Xu Lirong, Chairman, BBC, China Chapter, said that there was a need to look at the overall aspect for economic development and pursuing cooperation. The combined markets of the BRICS countries have immense potential. The need is to explore the internal and domestic markets and also look towards creating a joint five-country market. Besides, intra-BRICS trade and cooperation, he added, bilateral and multilateral cooperation must be looked at.
Dr. Danisa Baloyi, Chairman, Black Business Council, South Africa Chapter, said that the BRICS countries must work towards improving the life and standard of living of people in each nation and the benefits must be spread across to uplift the society. Women must be encouraged to enter business. This is in line with the Sustainable Development Goals which talks of development of women in all spheres of life. She added that the BRICS countries could also learn from South Africa as it sustained the many challenges to bring about an affirmative and inclusive society.
Mr. Harshavardhan Neotia, President, FICCI, said that intra-BRICS trade today is about US$ 242 billion, which is less than five percent of the total trade of BRICS economies. Given the level of complementarities our economies share, there is a huge potential to expand this to US$ 500 billion. One of the most significant outcomes of the efforts is the first BRICS Trade Fair that is currently being organized here in New Delhi by FICCI. Another important step that will help facilitate trade is the promotion of trade in local currencies. The respective governments should expand the scope and scale of pricing in local currency for intra-BRICS transactions and develop the necessary infrastructure to support such payments.
The FICCI President said that the institutional mechanism set up as the New Development Bank is commendable. The institutionalization process of BRICS is reflected in other sectors as well. Discussions are on-going for setting up of a BRICS Network University, BRICS Agriculture Research Centre. Likewise, the governments are in talks to set up BRICS Railway Research Centre with the aim to enhance technical cooperation in railway research and to accelerate exchanges.
He said that going forward, there is a need for having a BRICS Rating Agency. Our economies need a home grown institution that is the best in quality and also aligns its rating methodology to account for the emerging market business realities. Another area where BRICS can look at institutionalizing co-operation is in the field of economic and market research. A BRICS economic and market research institute can be a catalyst in supporting market intelligence requirements of small, medium and large companies from our respective countries. A solid research base on emerging economies can serve as an important reference point for businesses from our countries.
Mr. Rakesh Bharti Mittal, Vice President, CII, said that the BRICS countries should deepen their economic and trade relations. Greater cooperation with each other will help them to reinforce their position in world affairs. He suggested that a separate working group should be set up for trade in services. Besides, connectivity among the BRICS countries needs immense improvement.
Mr. Mittal said that some of the key areas where the BRICS countries could work together include manufacturing, especially in the light of the 'Make in India' initiative. Companies from China, Russia, Brazil and South Africa may like to take advantage of the liberalized FDI norms in the defence, automobile and others sectors and step up their presence in India. The other areas are technology transfer where India may offer its capacities in technology transfers in ICT, healthcare & pharmaceuticals, power, infrastructure, and HRD & training; Energy and Green economy; Financial Services; and food processing.
Mr. Sunil Kanoria, President, ASSOCHAM, in his remarks, emphasized the need for stepping up people-to-people connectivity and cooperation in ICT amongst the BRICS nations. This would help in mitigating the challenges that the countries of the grouping face through exchange of human talent.
He welcomed the establishment of the New Development Bank in Shanghai and pointed out that the idea of a network of universities across BRICS nations would help in better mutual understanding of the economies and culture of these countries.
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