BRICS can play an important role in strengthening multi-lateral institutions like WTO, IMF and UN systems, Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today said.
The global governance structures "do not reflect the reality and this is where urgent changes are required".
She made these remarks here at the inauguration of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Trade Fair at Pragati Maidan here.
"It is from this point of view that articulation of positions by BRICS countries and taking united stand on issues of common concern, holds immense significance for ensuring equity, justice and inclusiveness for developing countries," Sitharaman said.
"We believe that BRICS can play a positive role in strengthening the multi-lateral institutions, especially WTO, IMF, the World Bank and UN systems."
She said further that establishment of New Development Bank (NDB) is indicative of the urgent need for reforms of the global financial system towards new global rules-setting.
NDB was set up by the BRICS members.
On trade issues, the minister said trade among the BRICS nations is less than 5 per cent of their total global trade and "we need to find innovative ways of increasing intra-BRICS trade".
She attributed this to the subdued global trade as it has impacted BRICS economies differently -- some through falling commodity prices and others due to shrinking demand for manufactured goods.
In this gloomy scenario, it has been observed that nations are resorting to protectionist measures in the form of NTMs (non-tariff measures), creating invisible walls against free trade, the minister noted.
"It is in this context that co-operation among BRICS countries on NTMs remains significant. India has taken a lead on this issue and we should work towards standstill and rollback of protectionist measures," the minister added.
On the importance of the SME sector, Sitharaman urged the NDB to come out with ideas and pilot projects to strengthen MSMEs in the BRICS countries.
She also suggested that liberalising the services sector should be accorded top priority in BRICS as it helps in creating exponential growth in the region.
"Most importantly, free movement of people in our group for tourism, hospitality and business purposes will boost the intra-BRICS trade," she added.
According to the minister, there are ample opportunities for BRICS countries to do collaborative joint ventures in India under the Make in India initiative.
"These collaborative ventures should be looking not merely at the Indian market, but other regions of the globe," she proposed.
The minister also called for taking a united stand on issues of common concern at multi-lateral forums.
Nearly 400 companies and over 1,000 entrepreneurs from
BRICS and BIMSTEC countries are participating in the fair. The three-day fair also provides a platform to discuss trade, investment and technology collaborations. The fair was organised by industry bodies Ficci and CII.
Sitharaman had said earlier in the day that the trade ministers deliberated on specific areas for cooperation to enhance intra-BRICS trade.
These relate to forging cooperation in specific sectors such as SMEs, standards, NTMs, IPR, e-commerce, single window and working group on trade.
"The co-operative frameworks are non-binding and allow our countries to retain our policy space," she added.
Speaking on the occasion, Brazilian Minister of Industry, Foreign Trade and Services Marcos Pereira said the BRICS nations have made progress on ways to promote trade and investments.
He said that non-trade barriers need to be removed to boost trade.
Russian Minister for Industry and Trade Denis Manturov felt that there are huge opportunities in areas like nuclear energy, pharma and IT sectors for all the BRICS members.
South African Trade and Industry Minister Robert Davies said Africa provides huge opportunities to BRICS in terms of trade and investments.
According to Chinese Vice-Minister of Commerce Wang Shouwen, his country will share inputs for deepening BRICS co-operation.
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Later speaking to reporters, Sitharaman said BRICS trade ministers discussed several issues, including creation of a common market, to enhance economic ties.
During the last two days of deliberations, the officials of the member countries discussed eight points and on this, "we could arrive at a sort of a consensus on seven of them such as issues related to standards", she said.
Asked about the suggestion of China to negotiate a free trade agreement (FTA) among the BRICS member countries, the minister said there is no proposal as yet. "So, I can not comment on this," was her response.
Ahead of the BRICS summit in Goa, China on October 9 proposed a free trade area for the five-member bloc of emerging countries, saying such a move would constitute "significant form of co-operation".