Strategy will provide guideline to expand trade and investment
The BRICS group of five major emerging economies vowed to forge a closer economic partnership on Thursday by adopting a milestone blueprint for cooperation as they concluded an annual summit amid slowing growth in developed and emerging markets. [Special coverage]
An agreement on the New Development Bank, a financial institution designed to support the BRICS countries' economic development and prevent financial crises, was also entered into force during the meeting in the Russian city of Ufa.
The Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership will be "the key guideline" for expanding trade, investment and cooperation in wide-ranging areas including manufacturing and energy, according to the Ufa Declaration.
Observers said the landmark meeting has elevated the group's level of cooperation to a new high as the leaders mapped out a detailed road map and agreed on concrete plans.
President Xi Jinping called on the BRICS nations to identify key sectors for cooperation and increasingly integrate the newly adopted strategy with each member's development plans.
Members should promote the development of the bank's headquarters and a regional center in Africa, said Xi, who urged more countries to support the bank.
The Shanghai-based bank, with an initial authorized capital of $100 billion, plans to raise money both on local markets and internationally, and to issue its first loans in April next year, said its president, India's K.V. Kamath.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said the bank will focus on handling loans for large-scale joint projects in the transportation and energy sectors as well as in industrial development.
The Ufa Declaration said, "We welcome the proposal for the New Development Bank to cooperate closely with existing and new financing mechanisms including the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank."
Zhu Jiejin, an expert on BRICS studies at Fudan University in Shanghai, said the bank shows that the level of cooperation among the group's members has been raised from a mainly strategic approach to a more pragmatic one.
The bank will bring great benefits and support specific projects in various areas including industrial cooperation, said Zhu.
Although the bank is not designed to challenge the existing global financial system, Xi urged the BRICS countries to push for reform of the International Monetary Fund's governance structure by increasing the rights of emerging-market countries and developing countries to speak out.
IMF data show that the BRICS countries contributed half of the world's economic growth in the past decade, and their growth is expected to exceed that of the developed countries and other emerging economies by 2030.
Xu Xiujun, an expert on international political economy at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, expressed optimism over the five economies' prospects for development, saying the five remain the powerhouse of global growth.
The newly adopted strategy will convert ideas for cooperation into concrete measures, said Xu. The BRICS countries have all launched new reforms and prioritized the expansion of domestic demand to tap growth potential, the expert added.