Senior BRICS country diplomats voiced support on Friday for China's call for boosting free trade and opposing protectionism as emerging markets work together to inject power into economic growth.
More than 100 diplomats, officials and bankers from BRICS countries－Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa－gathered on Thursday and Friday at the 2017 First BRICS Sherpa Meeting in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, to discuss preparations for this year's summit in Xiamen, Fujian province.
State Councilor Yang Jiechi said at the opening ceremony that BRICS countries have to work together to maintain the openness of global economies.
Ary Norton De Murat Quintella, director of the Department of Central and South Asia and Oceania at Brazil's Foreign Ministry, said there are trade problems that need to be addressed and the BRICS summit is a proper forum for the countries to discuss these issues.
Brazil opposes all forms of protectionism, he said.
Sergey A. Ryabkov, Russian deputy minister of foreign affairs, said that China, which holds the BRICS rotating presidency this year, is taking "the right approach" in working to "present BRICS as an association with a global reach".
Russia advocates setting up an action plan "that would allow for better contacts between entrepreneurs without artificial obstacles, without attempts to divide the world's trade system", he said.
Alok A. Dimri, joint secretary of multilateral economic relations at India's Ministry of External Affairs, said the BRICS members look forward to establishing their own mechanisms in areas such as finance, commerce, people-to-people exchanges and education.
"Commodities, products, markets and consumers－they must remain connected. If this connection is broken at any point, there will be reactions to it. So protectionism is a challenge to open global trade and open global order," he said.
Anil Sooklal, director-general for Asia and the Middle East at South Africa's Department of International Relations and Cooperation, predicted that BRICS countries' economic growth this year would exceed 5 percent.
"Given the very poor economic environment we have, this is a positive message－the BRICS countries are an engine for growth," he said.