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BRICS Trade Ministers reaffirm commitment to multilateral trading system

BRICS Trade Ministers have reaffirmed the centrality of the rules-based, transparent, non-discriminatory, open and inclusive multilateral trading system (MTS), as embodied in the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Trade Ministers from the Federative Republic of Brazil, the Russian Federation, the Republic of India, the People's Republic of China and the Republic of South Africa met for the Eighth BRICS Trade Ministers' Meeting in Magaliesburg on Thursday, 5 July 2018. South Africa's Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies, chaired the meeting, which was held in preparation for the 10th BRICS Summit scheduled to be held in South Africa from 25 to 27 July 2018.

The meeting noted that while intra-BRICS exports have increased significantly in recent years, the world economy remains unbalanced and there is increasing backlash against globalisation. The Ministers noted that many countries are becoming more inward looking, with some major players in international trade moving away from multilateralism to focus on bilateral trade arrangements.

In his opening address, Minister Davies said the meeting comes at a time of great turbulence in the global trading environment. "We are seeing a series of aggressive actions which are aimed at achieving a rebalance of the global trading environment to the advantage of one global player. BRICS countries represent 22% of the world's GDP and it is important for us to come together."

The Ministers agreed that the multilateral trading system is facing unprecedented challenges and called on all WTO members to oppose protectionism and honour their commitments, including those made in previous ministerial decisions at the WTO.

In a communique released after the meeting, the Ministers emphasised that global trade rules should facilitate effective participation of all countries in the multilateral trading system, and that development must remain integral in the WTO's work. The communique also called for positive efforts to ensure that developing country members, particularly the least-developed country members, secure a share in the growth of world trade commensurate with the needs of their economic development.