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President wins praise of experts, executives

By HE WEI/ANDREW MOODY/ZHONG NAN | China Daily | Updated: 2017-09-05 06:55

Experts and business executives said they are heartened by China's pledge to seek practical results in economic cooperation among the BRICS countries as they coordinate development strategies.

The message was delivered by President Xi Jinping in a keynote speech on Monday that paves the way for the bloc's next "Golden Decade".

Xi called for a more "just and equitable" international order in his address, suggesting that BRICS is a grouping that could lead the reform of global financial architecture away from just the Washington-based international monetary system that has prevailed since the end of World War II, according to Kerry Brown, professor of Chinese Studies and director of the Lau Institute at King's College, London.

BRICS "is part of a diversification of the international financial infrastructure and has given people the opportunity to think about how other partners beyond the traditional ones can play a role", Brown said.

Sunil Geness, chairman of the Deregulation Working Group of South Africa's BRICS Business Council, backed Xi's moves to help foster more economic integration between the bloc's members and his announcement that funds will be committed to achieve that goal.

"There needs to be a focus in terms of skilling up the workforce, creating capacity on the ground to specifically increase the ability to produce the kinds of widgets that are required."

Paulo Cesar Silva, CEO of Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer, said he is deeply inspired by Xi's emphasis on the role of the business community in strengthening BRICS cohesion through tangible measures.

"President Xi stressed the pressing need to push ahead with pragmatic economic cooperation through down-to-earth projects on the enterprise level, which is a major boon to our business," Silva said.

Companies are also set to reap substantial gains as the BRICS community strengthens cooperation through macroeconomic policy coordination and pulls in resources to facilitate pragmatic private-sector collaboration, he said.

Yang Yuanqing, chairman of Lenovo Group, said the BRICS market accounts for 45 percent of the company's revenue, as the Chinese personal computer and smartphone giant taps into the digital wave in markets where information technology is starting to take off.

Yang said Xi's proposal to expand the impact of BRICS will help the bloc better work with economies related to the Belt and Road Initiative for a win-win situation.

Eric Jing, CEO of Ant Financial, an affiliate of Alibaba Group that runs Alipay, the world's largest mobile wallet service, said the company is "a firm participant, constructor and beneficiary" of the open and inclusive BRICS mechanism, and is looking to further expand and empower local businesses in the areas of payment and logistics across the bloc's four other countries and beyond.

"President Xi's speech has fueled new momentum as we promote inclusive finance through digital means and serve the interests of more 'unbanked' and 'underbanked' populations," he said.

Apart from economic growth in numbers, Naina Lal Kidwai, a former president of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and one of five BRICS business council members attending the summit from India, welcomed Xi's support for green development and fulfillment of the United Nations' 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

Kidwai, who has expertise in green financing, said one of the priorities is building sustainable infrastructure that does not repeat the mistakes of developed countries and avoids destroying the environment. "Two-thirds of the infrastructure now needed is going to be in the global South, not just in the BRICS countries but other emerging markets as well," she said. "The rules and regulations for this are still very much a work in progress within the BRICS countries but we seem to be pushing on an open door," she said.

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