In the face of global uncertainties and anti-globalization sentiment, representatives at the BRICS summit on Wednesday called for concerted efforts by developing countries to promote a freer global market and a fairer economic order.[Special coverage]
"One of the main tasks for BRICS cooperation is to eliminate barriers in trading and investment and make our economy more open," Sergey Katyrin, president of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Russia, told Xinhua on the sidelines of the three-day summit held in southeast China's coastal city of Xiamen.
His remarks are in line with the BRICS spirit of openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation reaffirmed in the BRICS Leaders Xiamen Declaration issued following the meetings of the five major emerging markets on Monday.
"We emphasize the importance of an open and inclusive world economy enabling all countries and peoples to share in the benefits of globalization," the declaration said, noting that the five countries -- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa -- will "continue to firmly oppose protectionism."
It also urged the world to guard against "inward-looking policies" and tendencies affecting global growth prospects and market confidence.
Chairman of South Africa BRICS Business Council, Iqbal Surve, believed that protectionism emerged mainly in the developed world "does not make any sense" as globalization is an irresistible and irreversible trend of the times.
"The world has been integrated with technologies, languages and global standards. Going back to protectionism is immature and selfish," Surve said.
Considering the setback against integration, he said the BRICS should be better used to promote opening up and development in countries.
Global efforts towards a freer market have been undermined by the "America First" strategy prompted by U.S. President Donald Trump, who has demanded renegotiations of the 23-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico, aiming to reverse huge trade deficits and curb the outflow of manufacturing jobs.
Mexico, with its export sector heavily relying on the United States, is concerned about Trump's "Buy American, Hire America" policies.
"Any attempts to close itself and build artificial barriers will lead nowhere," former Mexican Ambassador to China Sergio Ley-Lopez said, calling on BRICS and other developing countries to work hand-in-hand to combat anti-globalization tendencies.
China has invited leaders of Mexico, Egypt, Guinea, Tajikistan and Thailand to join the dialogue on South-South cooperation and global development, a pragmatic move to build up the China-proposed "BRICS Plus" model for a broader partnership with emerging markets and developing countries.
For Atul Dalakoti, executive director of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, BRICS, as an important platform for cooperation, should take concrete actions to help the world realize that globalization is the only way forward, especially for developing countries.
Highlighting Chinese President Xi Jinping's speech on opening up and cooperation, Standard Bank economist Jeremy Stevens, who attended the BRICS Business Forum on Sunday, said Xi's remarks reminded the whole world of the vital significance of openness and inclusiveness to growth when protectionist measures emerge.
The just-concluded BRICS Xiamen summit is widely deemed as setting a brighter future course for the bloc and the whole world as well.
As the BRICS now contributes more than half to global growth, BRICS New Development Bank President K.V. Kamath believed the bloc will play a more significant and decisive role in facilitating free trade and pushing forward globalization.
"I have confidence that BRICS will drive the agenda of free trade in the future," Kamath said. "If the BRICS leadership believes free trade is the right way, that is how our way will be."