China cherishes high expectations from upcoming BRICS summit

China cherishes high expectations from upcoming BRICS summit

China is playing an important role in driving mutually beneficial BRICS cooperation, said experts, noting that further developments are expected to emerge as the 15th BRICS Summit takes place in Johannesburg, South Africa, from Aug 22 to 24, according to China Daily.

Guided by the BRICS spirit of openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation, member nations have enhanced cooperation to promote economic recovery in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the experts.

China's foreign trade with other BRICS countries -- Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa -- soared 19.1 percent year-on-year to 2.38 trillion yuan ($330.62 billion) in the first seven months of 2023, data from the General Administration of Customs showed Monday. This accounted for 10.1 percent of China's total foreign trade value during the period, marking a rise of 1.6 percentage points.

Specifically, China's exports to these countries totaled 1.23 trillion yuan, up 23.9 percent year-on-year, while its imports reached 1.15 trillion yuan, with a year-on-year growth of 14.3 percent.

According to Dr. Kenneth Creamer, an economist from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, "the main objective of BRICS is to encourage increased levels of trade and cooperation among member countries and BRICS has been successful in advancing this objective since its first meeting."

"Increased cooperation in sectors such as energy and agriculture can play an important role in lifting levels of economic growth and employment in BRICS member countries. Increased trade and cooperation among BRICS countries can also assist in promoting economic recovery after the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic," said Dr. Creamer, who is also a member of the Presidential Economic Advisory Council.

Regarding the China-South Africa cooperation, Dr. Creamer said China and South Africa should build on existing strong relations to seek to better integrate the countries' manufacturing and supply chains to aid development and opportunity in both countries.

In the first half of the year, bilateral trade between China and South Africa reached $28.25 billion, up 11.7 percent year-on-year, official data showed. China has maintained its position as South Africa's largest trading partner for 14 consecutive years, while South Africa has been China's largest trading partner in Africa for 13 consecutive years.

"Chinese enterprises should be encouraged to use South Africa as a base country from which to manufacture, assemble and deliver products and services for sale in other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa," Dr. Creamer said.

China has remained Africa's largest trading partner for 14 consecutive years. The two sides have together constructed and commissioned over 10,000 km of railway, nearly 100,000 km of highway, and an array of important infrastructure projects, including airports, docks, bridges and power plants, according to China's Ministry of Commerce.

Speaking to Xinhua, Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, CEO of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa, said they are looking at the BRICS summit to bring in more tourists. "It's a major event. We're expecting it to boost our tourism."

"We need to focus on countries like China to bring more tourists to the country. That's where our growth in terms of tourists will come from; we need to look beyond the traditional areas," Tshivhengwa added.

Wandile Sihlobo, chief economist and researcher at the Agricultural Business Chamber of South Africa, pointed out that China has one of the biggest markets in the world in terms of agricultural products.

"South Africa is one of the countries that is also trying to deepen its exports into China, which is something that is part and parcel of the discussions that are happening within the various BRICS business working groups," Sihlobo said.

Themed "BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development and Inclusive Multilateralism," this summit will carry forward the sound momentum of cooperation from the BRICS "China Year" 2022 and chart a brighter future for BRICS.

"The summit is of great significance for advancing practical cooperation among emerging markets and developing countries in various fields, promoting global governance reform, and enhancing the representation and voice of developing countries," said Li Wentao, a researcher with the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

Li added that against the backdrop of major global changes, the solidarity and cooperation among BRICS countries will bring more certainty to an uncertain world.

Enhanced cooperation and better coordination among BRICS countries — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — will bolster their economic growth and fortify the multilateral trading system, said market watchers and business leaders.

By leveraging their collective strengths, these influential emerging economies can shape a more robust global economic resurgence, they said. Through increased trade, investment and technological innovation, BRICS countries can catalyze growth not only within their respective borders but on a global scale, China Daily reports.

China's foreign trade with other BRICS economies amounted to 3.69 trillion yuan ($506.76 billion) in 2022, up 17 percent year-on-year, according to data released on Monday by China's General Administration of Customs.

China had consistently maintained its position as the largest trading partner of Russia, Brazil and South Africa, thereby giving them further development impetus.

Their foreign trade ties maintained notable growth momentum in the first seven months of this year, while China saw the value of its trade with other BRICS countries soar 19.1 percent year-on-year to 2.38 trillion yuan.

Consensus has been reached during the recent 13th BRICS trade ministers' meeting and the seventh BRICS industry ministers' meeting on issues such as cooperation frameworks for promoting the upgrading of the manufacturing sector and establishing sustainable industrial and supply chains.

These cooperative endeavors hold the promise of rejuvenating economic activities, said Ren Lin, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' National Institute of Global Strategy in Beijing.

Such meetings have shown that BRICS countries pay more attention to the imperative of digital transformation, fostering collaboration among small and medium-sized enterprises, and reinforcing the resilience of industrial and supply chains, according to information released earlier this month by China's Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

Atul Dalakoti, executive director of the New Delhi-based Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said the importance of trade and investment among BRICS countries, along with their collaborative efforts in technological innovation, industrial transformation and the new digital economy, has been well established, providing impetus for growth in the BRICS countries.

"China has a well-developed, enviable infrastructure. All the BRICS countries can work together in areas such as artificial intelligence, big data, 5G and high-speed trains, and create physical connectivity among themselves," Dalakoti said.

Chen Wenling, chief economist at the Beijing-based China Center for International Economic Exchanges, said that by collectively harnessing the power of the digital era, the five countries can effectively navigate the complexities of the transformation of modern manufacturing.

These efforts will boost BRICS countries' foreign trade volume not only among themselves but also with other parts of the world, said Lin Meng, director of the Modern Supply Chain Research Institute at the Beijing-based Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation.

The five countries should work together to build an open, inclusive, fair, just and nondiscriminatory environment for foreign trade, the digital economy and the green economy, she said.

Besides traditional Chinese exports to other BRICS markets such as construction machinery, railway trains, manufacturing equipment, electronics, textiles and household appliances, Chinese-made passenger vehicles and solar cells have also become popular in these countries in recent years, according to Customs data.

In addition to metals, crude oil, natural gas and grains, shipments to China from Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa include passenger aircraft, timber, meat, steel, cotton, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment.

Lyu Jun, board chairman of COFCO Group, China's largest food trader in terms of sales revenue, said the company will continue to import agricultural products from other BRICS countries in the coming years, since agriculture is one of the key areas of cooperation between China and these four trading partners.

After receiving 53,000 metric tons of South African feed corn for the first time in China at a port in Dongguan, Guangdong province, in early May, COFCO Group announced that it had procured 158,000 tons of corn from South Africa in the first half of this year.

In terms of intensifying its investment and trade cooperation in other BRICS economies, the company has been bolstering the construction of soybean crushing plants, refining facilities, sugar mills, ports and silos, as part of its processing and logistics infrastructure development in these four countries, Lyu said.

"COFCO Group has also fostered a strong partnership with local farms and agricultural households, forming a mutually beneficial community that contributes to local economic growth," he said.

Shanghai saw a surge in the number of cargo ships and aircraft traveling between it and other BRICS countries in the first seven months of this year, as foreign trade between China and these nations maintained rapid growth, local customs authorities said on Wednesday.

A total of 526 international ships sailed directly from Shanghai to other BRICS countries, including South Africa, from January to July, according to Shanghai Customs. That was an increase of 140 percent over the same period last year. There were 602 inbound and outbound aircraft at Shanghai ports, an increase of 110 percent year-on-year, according to Shanghai Customs.

During the same period, the total value of imports from other BRICS countries to Shanghai and exports from Shanghai to other BRICS countries was 411.2 billion yuan ($57.12 billion), up 15.8 percent year-on-year.

By Zhong Nan on August 23 2023 for the China Daily, additional reporting by Xinhua (China). Image