Business

China's Xi urges Brics to promote open world economy

XIAMEN, CHINA The Brics group of emerging economies must promote trade liberalisation and an open world economy, Chinese President Xi Jinping said at a business meeting yesterday at the start of a three-day summit in south-eastern China.

The heads of state from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa are gathering in the city of Xiamen through tomorrow, giving China as host its latest chance to position itself as a bulwark of globalisation in the face of United States President Donald Trump's "America First" agenda.

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

"We should push for an open world economy, promote trade liberalisation and facilitation, jointly create a new global value chain and realise a global economic re-balancing," Mr Xi told Brics business leaders and senior officials.

He said he still has "full confidence" in Brics countries' development despite claims that the bloc's relevance has faded with slower growth.

"The development of emerging markets and developing countries won't touch anyone's cheese but will instead diligently grow the world economic pie," he said.

AGAINST PROTECTIONISM

Earlier, Chinese vice-trade minister Wang Shouwen said the Brics meeting is expected to "reach consensus for actions" to oppose trade protectionism.

He added that China is interested in possibly establishing a free trade agreement with Mexico.

In July, Mr Xi called on members of the Group of 20 nations to champion an open world economy and - at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January - he offered a vigorous defence of globalisation.

In Xiamen, Mr Xi closed his 45-minute speech by saying Beijing encourages Chinese companies to continue going abroad and "warmly welcomes" foreign firms to invest in the world's second-largest economy.

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

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

The stand-off was the latest example of how Brics countries, while sharing certain development goals, are far from unified. - REUTERS

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