The five-party meeting was attended by President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro, President of Russia Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, President of China Xi Jinping and President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa.
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Speech at the meeting of BRICS heads of state and government
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues,
Our traditional meetings in anticipation of the G20 summits undoubtedly play an important role in shaping common views on key issues of these forums’ agenda. These meetings demonstrate that the strategic partnership of the BRICS countries is working.
The global economic situation cannot but raise concerns. It is indicative that international trade is no longer the driving force of economic growth and is carrying an increasingly heavier burden of protectionism, politically motivated restrictions and barriers. Business activity is showing poor performance indicators; the global debt is increasing; there is high volatility in financial, foreign exchange and commodity markets. In these circumstances it appears that BRICS states must act as initiators in building a more just and sustainable global development model on the principles of equality, respect for sovereignty and consideration for the interests of all countries.
It is important to not only register existing problems. Let’s work together on searching for solutions, possible agreements that could become a blueprint for discussion in a wider circle of interested states. In particular, this concerns resolving the difficulties faced by global trade. Clearly, it needs to be adapted to modern reality. In this context, a reform of the World Trade Organisation is coming to the fore.
We think any attempts to destroy the WTO or diminish its role are counterproductive. WTO members need to agree on principles of cooperation in such new industries as e-commerce, online financial transactions, as well as formulate clear and unambiguous rules of cooperation in investment, services and infrastructure development. Of course, it is necessary to develop explicit and understandable rules of operation for transnational corporations that would prevent monopolisation of markets and guarantee free access to technology.
Next. BRICS can and must play a more influential role in global finances, insist on continuing the IMF reform and strengthening authority of emerging economies and developing countries in the fund.
Joint implementation of the practice of using national currencies of our states in international transactions also seems to have good prospects.
We could boost security of financial operations by integrating the five countries’ payment service providers and creating an independent communication channel between national banks. I believe it is extremely important taking into account our current conditions. It would also contribute to increased stability of the BRICS banking systems against external impact.
In this context, we find it advantageous to further expand the operations of the New Development Bank that already finances 35 investment projects worth over $9 billion. Regarding the expansion of the bank’s shareholding structure, our opinion is that this matter needs to be addressed in stages. The first thing to do would be to approve a quota formula for prospective shareholders and regulatory documents, followed by ensuring a balanced regional representation.
There are extensive opportunities for BRICS cooperation in the digital economy and other new and booming hi-tech industries. Russia offers its partners a number of advanced ICT and AI projects. Last year at the G20 meeting, we proposed an initiative to protect the rights of online consumers and the proposal was met with definite understanding. We hope that our BRICS partners will keep working with us on promoting this issue within the G20.
We stand for stronger cooperation between our countries in such vitally important area as energy. Since the BRICS members include leading global energy consumers and producers our association could be more active in the matters related to global energy security and universal access to energy.
We also propose discussing what can be done in the BRICS format for harmonising the global energy market and reducing fuel prices volatility. And, of course, we can see excellent prospects for joint work on broadening the use of environmentally friendly fuels, natural gas and nuclear and hydro energy. This is necessary for a gradual transition to more sustainable energy systems, balanced economic growth and lower emissions.
I note that the role of the BRICS countries in responding to acute challenges and threats to international peace and security is steadily increasing. I am referring to the settlement of crises and conflicts in Afghanistan, Venezuela, the Middle East or the Korean Peninsula. Thus, the legitimate Syrian government managed to stop large-scale bloodshed in its country largely thanks to Russia’s all-round support. At the current stage it is important to stamp out the remaining hotbeds of tension, continue assistance to the Syrian authorities in the delivery of relief consignments, restoration of the derailed economy and infrastructure, and the return of refugees. We believe it is important to have our partners in the BRICS more actively involved in dealing with these matters.
Speaking of our cooperation in combatting the terrorist threat on a broader plane, I would like to commend the useful initiatives of the Brazilian Presidency aimed at promoting interaction in blocking the sources of terrorist financing and stopping extremist propaganda. We support all of these ideas and are committed to their joint implementation.
In conclusion, I want to thank our Brazilian colleagues and President Bolsonaro personally for the organisation of this meeting. Of course, we will meet with each other again on the sidelines of this summit and will be able to exchange opinions on the move regarding any issues, but the beginning of our work in this format seems to me symptomatic and very appropriate.