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Much potential to tap in intra-BRICS cooperation - Indian expert
【2017-08-08】

There is much potential to tap in the intra-BRICS cooperation in many areas such as trade and investment, an Indian expert has said.

While the last eight annual summits seeing this group of five emerging economies (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) was gaining momentum in its growth, intra-BRICS cooperation has yet much room to improve, especially in the areas of trade and investment, according to Srikanth Kondapalli, professor at the Center for East Asia Studies of the New Delhi-based Jawaharlal Nehru University.

"In general, the intra-BRICS trade is low as with investments or technology flows. Much of the global trade of the BRICS countries is with western countries," Kondapalli told Xinhua in an interview on Sunday.

"The total trade between the five BRICS countries accounted for only 4.9 percent of the total foreign trade of these countries," he said, adding that "much of the trade is of low end products or commodities."

Meanwhile, "the intra-BRICS investment flows are also not very high so far, resulting in the BRICS countries' dependency on the international lenders," Kondapalli said.

The Indian expert thinks the India-proposed New Development Bank (NDB) launched in 2015 within the BRICS framework will help alleviate the situation. Still, "India is advocating for more investment flows in the infrastructure projects," he said.

Kondapalli noted that the NDB, which is intended to focus on infrastructure and sustainable development projects, clearly "needs to expand infrastructure financing, currency internationalization, financial credit, mutual investment and trade facilitation so that these states could overcome the ill-effects of global financial crisis."

In his opinion, funding small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) should also be among the bank's priorities.

The Indian expert believes cultural exchanges and tourism are also areas calling for further intra-BRICS cooperation.

"As with the intra-BRICS trade and investments, the cultural exchanges are also at a minimal (level) till recently," he said.

The development level of "the intra-BRICS tourism, people-to-people interactions, cultural/literary shows have so far not been very high," he said, blaming this mainly on a lack of infrastructure and financing.

On joint efforts against terrorism, Kondapalli said, "There is no concrete coordination between the security agencies," while expecting the upcoming BRICS summit to be held in September in the Southeast Chinese city of Xiamen will help resolve the BRICS countries' differences in addressing terrorism.

Kondapalli also hopes for further progress to be made at the Xiamen summit in the BRICS cooperation on combating climate change, while noting differences remain within the BRICS group on issues of cyber security, making cooperation in this area unlikely at present.

In addition, the professor thinks both India and China will work to enhance the role of the BRICS group.

"It is clear from the previous eight summit meetings that both India and China, despite bilateral difference, have come together on a number of issues of common concern such as trade. Both countries are at a juncture where they are increasingly integrated in the global trade value chain," said Kondapalli.

"Hence we could predict that their role would increase in shaping the BRICS phenomenon," he said.