The Role of the BRICS in Building a Global Community of Shared Future*
July 25, 2018
The BRICS mechanism owes its birth and growth to the evolving global economy and international landscape. In its first decade, BRICS cooperation got off the ground and bore rich fruit. We five BRICS countries, guided by the BRICS spirit of openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation, have expanded our cooperation, strengthened our solidarity and mutual trust, improved the lives of our peoples, and drawn our bond of interests and friendship even closer. Indeed, our cooperation has contributed much to global economic recovery and growth.
The world is undergoing momentous changes, the scale of which is unseen in a century. This is a world of both opportunities and challenges for us emerging markets and developing countries. We should pursue BRICS cooperation in the historic process of global transformation, and we should promote the development of our own countries in the historic course of promoting the common development of both BRICS countries and other countries, thus making new advances in the next Golden Decade.
– The next decade will be crucial as new global growth drivers will take the place of old ones. A new round of revolution and transformation in science, technology and industry featuring artificial intelligence, big data, quantum information and bio-technology is gaining momentum. These are giving birth to a large number of new industries and business forms and models and will fundamentally change global development and the way people work and live. We must seize this historic opportunity and promote leapfrog development in emerging markets and developing countries.
– The next decade will see faster changes in the international landscape and the world balance of power. Emerging markets and developing countries already contribute 80 percent of global economic growth. Based on current exchange rates, these countries account for nearly 40 percent of the global economic output. Growing at their current pace, these countries will see their economic output approach half of the global total in a decade. The collective rise of emerging markets and developing countries is unstoppable, and it will ensure more balanced global development and provide a stronger corner-stone for global peace.
– The next decade will see a profound reshaping of the global governance system. Despite some setbacks, the world is moving towards multi-polarity and greater economic globalization. Geopolitical flashpoints keep emerging, and the dark shadow of terrorism and armed conflict still haunts us. Unilateralism and protectionism are resurgent, dealing a severe blow to multilateralism and the multilateral trade regime. The international community has reached a new cross-roads, and we are facing a choice between cooperation and confrontation, between opening up and a close-door policy, and between mutual benefit and a beggar-thy-neighbor approach. Thus, the evolution of the global governance system will have a profound impact on all nations, particularly emerging markets and developing countries, and indeed on the prosperity and stability of the whole world.
We BRICS countries need to keep abreast of the historic trend, seize development opportunities, jointly meet challenges, and play a constructive role in building a new model of international relations and a global community of shared future.
First, we need to pursue win-win cooperation to build an open economy. Opening up and cooperation provide a sure way to achieve progress in science and technology and growth in productivity. Trade wars should be rejected, because there will be no winner. Economic hegemony is even more objectionable, as it will undermine the collective interests of the international community; those who pursue this course will only end up hurting themselves.
As the world economy is going through profound transition and changes, only by opening themselves to others can different countries achieve mutual benefit, shared prosperity, and sustainable development. This should be the choice for all countries. We BRICS countries should firmly promote an open world economy, resolutely reject unilateralism and protectionism, liberate trade and facilitate investment, and jointly steer the global economy towards greater openness, inclusiveness, balanced growth, and win-win outcomes for all. We should see that economic globalization will deliver more benefits. We should help emerging markets and developing countries, African countries and the least developed countries in particular, to become fully involved in international division of labor and share the benefits of economic globalization.
Second, we need to pursue innovation and seize development opportunities. Science and technology, as the primary production forces, have provided inexhaustible power driving the progress of human civilization. Humanity had made giant leaps forward as it progressed from an agricultural civilization to an industrial civilization, a process which created both huge gains in social productivity and growing pains. The world today has once again reached a critical historic juncture. In the unfolding new round of scientific and technological revolution and industrial transformation, new things will inevitably emerge and take the place of old ones. Indeed, this will be a difficult and painful process. But if countries use these opportunities of change and transformation to their advantage, they will be able to achieve dynamic growth and bring better lives to their people.
In the face of new opportunities brought by new science and technology, every country has an equal right to development. Those who fail to keep abreast of the times will fall behind and become irrelevant. What we can and should do is to seize opportunities, increase input in innovation, focus on developing new growth areas, and replace old growth drivers with new ones. We should endeavor to advance structural reform, remove all institutional barriers to innovation, fully unlock innovation potential, and energize the market. We need to develop a global perspective, boost international exchanges and cooperation in innovation, and fully leverage each other's comparative strengths and resource endowment, so as to enable more countries and people to benefit from scientific and technological advances. At the same time, we should ease the adverse impact of IT application, automation and smart technology on traditional industries, and create new job opportunities in the process of fostering new industries.
Third, we need to pursue inclusive growth to deliver benefits to the peoples of all countries. Uneven and insufficient development is a common challenge facing all countries. The North-South gap, namely, the gap between developed countries and emerging markets and developing countries, remains huge. And there are also development gaps of varying degrees within countries.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development provides a comprehensive action plan for the international community. Basing ourselves on our actual national conditions, we BRICS countries need to follow the guidance of the 2030 Agenda as we pursue our own development strategies. We should put people first, ensure coordinated social and economic development, and protect the environment, thus giving our people a stronger sense of fulfillment and happiness. We should ensure harmony between man and nature and encourage the international community to fully implement the Paris Agreement. We should treat nature with awe and do more to foster an ecosystem conducive to green development. It is important to promote international development cooperation, urge developed countries to fulfill their promises on official development assistance, and increase support to developing countries.
Home to more developing countries than any other continent, Africa has more potential than any other region in the world. We need to strengthen cooperation with Africa, support its development and make BRICS-Africa cooperation a model for South-South cooperation. We should actively carry out cooperation with African countries in such areas as poverty reduction, food security, innovation, infrastructure, and industrialization in ways compatible with their national conditions. We should help African countries improve their economic structure, contribute to the implementation of Agenda 2063 of the African Union (AU), and thus enable Africa, an ancient continent, to grow stronger.
Fourth, we need to uphold multilateralism and improve global governance. An enabling and stable external environment is essential for any country, particularly emerging markets and developing countries, to achieve growth. The current international order is clearly not perfect. But as long as it is rule-based, equity-oriented, and facilitates a win-win outcome, it should not be discarded at will, still less should it be dismantled and rebuilt all over again.
We BRICS countries must uphold multilateralism. We should urge all parties to fully observe collectively-adopted international rules. All countries should be treated as equals regardless of their size, and issues that matter to all must be addressed through consultation. We should say no to hegemony and power politics. We need to promote common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, and be actively involved in mediation efforts to resolve geopolitical flash-points. It is important for us to firmly support the multilateral trade regime, advance the reform of global economic governance, and increase the representation and voice of emerging markets and developing countries. When new rules are made on such issues as innovation, trade and investment, and protection of intellectual property rights, or on new frontiers including cyberspace, outer space and the polar regions, we should make sure that the views of emerging markets and developing countries are heeded, that their interests and requests are taken into consideration, and that they are offered sufficient opportunities for development.
* Part of the speech at the BRICS Business Forum.
(Not to be republished for any commercial or other purposes.)