The 7th Meeting of the BRICS Trade Ministers is held in Shanghai, east China, Aug. 1, 2017. (Xinhua/Ding Ting)
Trade ministers from BRICS countries agreed to work together to oppose protectionism and increase mutual investment Wednesday.
In Shanghai, the trade ministers of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa concluded their annual meeting in advance of the leaders' summit later this year.
Ministers agreed to firmly oppose protectionism with annual measures and safeguard the multilateral trade system, calling on other countries to do the same.
As members of the World Trade Organization (WTO), they encouraged more countries to participate in the organization's work, urging the institution to show more commitment to the least developed countries.
"Safeguarding the multilateral trade system and combating protectionism serve the interests of emerging and developing economies," Zhong Shan, China's minister of commerce, said Tuesday.
The WTO has projected that this year's global trade will grow at 2.4 percent, up from last year's 1.3 percent. A large portion of the WTO's cautious optimism comes from a recovering global economy, however, protectionism shows no signs of abating.
According to the Ministry of Commerce, China imported products worth 70.2 billion U.S. dollars from BRICS countries in the first half of 2017, up 33.6 percent year on year.
Contributing nearly one-quarter of global economic output and half of world economic growth, BRICS nations play a significant role in the global economy and governance.
They have created a new paradigm for cooperation between emerging and developing countries since the mechanism was established in 2006 and much remains to be done.
The ministers agreed on e-commerce cooperation as a new driver of trade among BRICS nations. A plan on service trade was also agreed with expanded cooperation in tourism, education and health care.
The ministers also agreed to do more on intellectual property rights (IPR), particularly with regard to legislation and law enforcement.
Mutual investment can boost the global economy and employment. Outward bound BRICS investment was just under 197 billion U.S. dollars in 2016, but investment between the five nations accounted for only 6 percent of that.
Ministers recognized the need for policy transparency, improved efficiency and services, and capacity building for inclusive, sustainable growth.
"As the host of this year's meeting, China has confidence in implementing the consensus reached by leaders of BRICS nations. The Shanghai meeting sets the stage for the leaders summit later this year," Minister Zhong Shan said.
Holder of the BRICS presidency this year, China will host the ninth BRICS summit in September in Xiamen, Fujian Province.