13th BRICS Trade Ministers' Meeting

 Union Minister of Commerce and Industry, Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution and Textiles, Shri Piyush Goyal attended the 13th BRICS Trade Ministers’ Meeting held yesterday under the BRICS Presidency of South Africa virtually. The theme of BRICS this year is “BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development and Inclusive Multilateralism”. Shri Piyush Goyal, touched upon issues related to WTO, Supply chain, Digitalisation, MSMEs and on the issue of Mispricing and under-invoicing in the meeting.

The Minister lauded the South African Presidency on having an ambitious Agenda and successfully completing outcome oriented activities under the Contact Group on Economic and Trade Issues (CGETI). He extended strong support to BRICS spirit of equality, openness, inclusiveness, consensus, mutual respect and understanding.

Shri Piyush Goyal stressed upon building trust among each other and expressed strong belief in small, achievable, incremental steps towards WTO Reform. He also expressed how India wishes to see invigorated, improved, inclusive WTO as it completes three decades, talking about ’30 for 30’, which is an effort to bring at least 30 operational improvements to the WTO before the Organization completes 30 years, i.e., by 1 January 2025.

Reflecting India’s efforts to meet its commitments towards global efforts to fight the climate related challenges, the Minister apprised the BRICS Member countries about India’s achievement and its recent ranking at 5th position as per Climate Change Performance Index, published by German Watch. In this context, he also mentioned that India was the only G20 country in the top 10 rank. As BRICS members are also a part of G20, he sought cooperation for significant outcomes under the ‘Trade and Investment Working Group’ of G20 under India’s Presidency.

Shri Goyal also made it clear that for collective efforts amongst the BRICS countries, the utmost important issue would be to work in a trust based open atmosphere through transparency and sharing information. In this context, he also expressed disappointment that even within BRICS membership, a few Members had expressed concerns on Transparency. There are concerted efforts to bring in non-tariff barriers through the use of non science based Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary measures to stall the collective efforts of the BRICS countries, which is the core of collaborative efforts for trade. Our efforts to get the agreement amongst the Members to be fair under the prevailing system, unfortunately did not bring in the desired result. He made it clear that unless trade and investment activities are carried out cooperatively in a transparent manner, it would not yield the desired results.

On Supply Chains, Shri Goyal stressed that the principles of trust and transparency along with security and diversification being the most important factors for resilient and robust supply chains. This will be the foundation for an ensuring early warning system amongst BRICS countries which would play an important role in preventing wide ranging disruptions as were experienced during COVID-19.

On digital economy, while acknowledging that technology is a great equalizer and not a source of division, the Minister expressed deep concern over deprivation of the access to virtual platforms, tele-medicine, distance education and e-payments. He mentioned about pro-active actions and concerted decision taken by India to adopt whole- of-society approach to digital technology and improved public services. Shri Goyal mentioned the initiatives taken by India under the able leadership of the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, aiming at bridging the digital divide by leveraging cost-effective technology-based solutions.

As MSME’s are an integral part of the BRICS Members, Shri Piyush Goyal brought the importance of cooperation and collective efforts to the foreground for MSME’s. He expressed the need to focus on key areas like, exploring cooperation in the form of Research and Development, Technology transfers and joint Ventures as well as the Business development opportunities for possible partnerships in the future.

On Mispricing and underinvoicing, the Minister expressed his concern about the negative impact trade mis-pricing and under-invoicing has on the economies. He even mentioned that India had acknowledged its importance under its Chairship in 2021 and included it as an outcome through Capacity Building Workshop. He commended the efforts made by the South African Presidency for conducting a workshop in the continuity on the initiative taken by India.

In conclusion, the Minister laid stress upon the importance of collaborative efforts and commitment along with resilience, unity and transparency to face challenges under the principles of compassion, empathy and understanding, for a common brighter future.


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