BRICS nations pledge to strengthen business ties

The BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – agreed on Sunday to deepen their cooperation to boost trade and investment.

At a meeting of BRICS Business Council in the western resort town of Goa, the leaders called for bringing economies of member nations closer to create new business opportunities.

“We count on the BRICS Business Council to work with us to achieve our common aim of strengthening mutual trade; enhancing business opportunities; building investments linkages; promoting innovation; and removing bottlenecks to intra-BRICS commerce,” Modi said.

The gathering seeks to add substance to the group that grew out of an acronym devised by Goldman Sachs economist Jim O’Neill back in 2003 that projected a long-term boom and global power shift in their favour.

Throwing his weight behind the New Development Bank (NDB), Chinese President Xi Jinping said Beijing was ready to work with all member nations to make it a success.

“China stands ready to work with all the other BRICS parties to support the work of the new development bank and early results of the first batch of the projects and make the brands of the new development bank known to the international community and foster a good example for international development agencies,” Xi said.

BRICS agreed to create NDB in July 2014 with initial authorised capital of $100 billion. The lender was officially launched a year later.

Russian President, Vladimir Putin, called for the need to work closely to “create conditions for new business projects.”

“Russia will continue contributing to bringing the economies of the five states closer to create conditions for new business projects. It invites all the business communicators of the BRICS countries to work out on projects and our partnership ties with Russian companies. We continue supporting the activities of the business council as an important tool for fostering mutual beneficial partnership of the BRICS countries,” Putin said.

NDB president K. V. Kamath announced that the bank will ramp up lending to $2.5 billion next year after making its first loans to back green projects.

“Looking forward, we are targeting implementing lending of around USD 2.5 billion for the next year and we believe that this would be largely in the area of sustainable infrastructure, green infrastructure and we plan to raise about USD 1.5 billion through bonds. We believe that providing local currency financing for projects minimizes the currency risk and reduces the effective cost for member countries,” said Kamath.

The NDB, headquartered in Shanghai, will expand its staff to 300 over the next three years but run a tight operation that seeks to take quick decisions and transfer experience across all five BRICS member states.

It has already approved loans totalling $900 million to green projects in each member state. It has also started a renminbi-denominated borrowing programme, issuing a 3 billion yuan ($450 million) bond.

Kamath, 68, said there was plenty of room for new lenders like the NDB and the Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), in addition to established institutions like the World Bank.

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