Xi warns of globalisation backlash

(From left) Mr Xi and Mr Modi with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the eighth annual Brics summit on Saturday. Brics leaders issued a joint declaration on a range of measures, including the setting up of a new credit ratings agency.
(From left) Mr Xi and Mr Modi with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the eighth annual Brics summit on Saturday. Brics leaders issued a joint declaration on a range of measures, including the setting up of a new credit ratings agency.PHOTO: REUTERS

Amid rising protectionism, Brics nations urged to stick together

BENAULIM (India) • Chinese President Xi Jinping said yesterday that a rising tide of protectionism and anti-globalisation was endangering the world economy's still-fragile recovery, as leaders from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (Brics) vowed to forge closer business and trade ties.

The eighth annual Brics summit took place in the tropical state of Goa amid heightened tensions between India and its nuclear-armed neighbour Pakistan.

Brics leaders issued a joint declaration on a range of measures, including the setting up of a new credit ratings agency and initiatives to fight tax evasion.

Both Mr Xi and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Brics nations must stick together, stressing there was much to be positive about even though members had been beset by domestic woes and issues sparked by the 2008 financial crisis.

"At present, the deep-seated impact of the international financial crisis is still unfolding. The global economy is still going through a treacherous recovery and deep adjustments," Mr Xi said.

He said "deep-seated imbalances that triggered the financial crisis" were far from being resolved.

"Some countries are getting more inward-looking in their policies. Protectionism is rising, and forces against globalisation are posing an emerging risk," he added.

TURNING INWARDS

Some countries are getting more inward-looking in their policies. Protectionism is rising, and forces against globalisation are posing an emerging risk.

CHINESE PRESIDENT XI JINPING

He did not single out anyone, but US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has threatened to erect trade barriers against Chinese products if elected. Britain's vote to leave the European Union has been interpreted partly as a backlash against globalisation.

At a time when China's economy is slowing, even though it still ranks as the world's second-largest, India has become the fastest-growing major economy. Its gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to expand by 7.6 per cent in 2016-2017.

Noting intra-Brics trade was US$250 billion (S$347 billion), Mr Modi said: "We should set ourselves a target to double this number to US$500 billion by 2020."

Brics was formed in 2011 with the aim of using the growing economic and political influence of its members to challenge Western hegemony. With an estimated US$16 trillion in joint GDP, they set up their own bank in parallel to the Washington-based International Monetary Fund and World Bank, and hold summits rivalling the Group of 7 forum.

Brics nations agreed yesterday to fast-track the establishment of their own credit ratings agency to better cater to developing economies, but no timetable was announced for its formation.

In a thinly veiled reference to Pakistan, Mr Modi urged his peers to take a strong, united stand against the "mother ship of terrorism" in the South Asian region.

"In our own region, terrorism poses a grave threat to peace, security and development," he said in remarks to Brics leaders.

"Tragically, the mother ship of terrorism is a country in India's neighbourhood," he said, without directly naming Pakistan.

With China reluctant to embarrass its traditional allies in Islamabad, a joint statement at the end of the summit referred only to a vague goal of combating "cross-border terrorism and its supporters".

"Modi is aware that such language wouldn't get the consensus necessary to make it into the final communique. Including it in his speech ensures it gets wide circulation anyway," said South Asia expert Shashank Joshi.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS, BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 17, 2016, with the headline 'Xi warns of globalisation backlash'. Print Edition | Subscribe