SANYA, China — Leaders of the big five developing nations — the “BRICS” — pledged on Thursday to push for a greater role in world bodies as well as reform of the international monetary system.
In a summit on the southern resort island of Hainan, the heads of Brazil, Russia, India, China and newly joined South Africa met and issued a lengthy declaration, covering everything from global currency reform to pushing for more clout in groups like the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization. The leaders, who held a joint briefing at the end of their summit, said they intend to carry forward with calls for greater say from the developing world.
China’s own contentious currency policy was off the table for discussion; instead the BRICS leaders called for international monetary system reform and inclusion of a wider group of currencies in the IMF’s global reserve funds — moving away from the U.S. dollar. In a further move, leaders from the five countries agreed in principle to undertake a new loan and credit structure, using their own currencies rather than the U.S. dollar.
“We should establish fair, just, inclusive and well-managed international monetary and financial systems to support global economic development and increase the say and representation of emerging markets and developing countries in these systems,” Chinese President Hu Jintao said in his closing remarks.
“We should set up a just and equitable international free trade system, oppose protectionism in all its forms, strengthen the multilateral trading regime and push for early attainment of the goals of a development round at the Doha Round negotiations,” Hu added.
Other leaders said they remain committed to existing global accords and structures, but want more say for the developing world. Leaders stressed that the BRICS nations account for 40 percent of the world’s population and 16 percent of the total global GDP.
In a separate BRICS business leaders forum, speakers discussed the potential opportunities for consumer demand among the developing world, where economic growth rates are high and standards of living are rising quickly.
Phuti Malabie, chief executive officer of the South African investment firm Shanduka Group, said that too often the developed world and other countries only look to Africa as a place to extract resources. But with high growth rates across the continent and incomes rising quickly in countries like South Africa, trade should become more balanced, and consumers are emerging quickly.
“For Africa, it’s not just about resources. Yes, Africa is a resource-rich continent,” she said. “But certainly the markets within the African continent are deeper than just resources.”
“This presents an opportunity for those wanting to sell their products within Africa,” said Malabie, urging BRICS partners to explore the consumer markets.
Nand Khemka, chairman of India’s Sun Group, a trade alliance, said the BRICS countries represent a strong opportunity for global investment and trade — particularly with growing consumer demand.
“The rise of these countries could bring about a shift in the global landscape in the decades ahead,” he said.
The one-day BRICS summit wrapped with agreements for the nations to meet again in India next year. In the meantime, the countries agreed to help push Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization, among other accords.