Bloomberg — Chinese President Xi Jinping and Brazil’s Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said the Global South should wield more influence, in remarks ahead of a summit with other BRICS leaders aimed at boosting their heft on the world stage.
Speaking separately on Tuesday, the comments emphasized points of unity among Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa ahead of a gathering that will debate topics on which they lack agreement, including how membership of the bloc should be expanded.
“We should practice multilateralism and work towards giving a boost to countries in the Global South,” Xi told a joint briefing in Pretoria with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa following a state visit. “We believe our countries should be strategic partners, we should deepen political mutual trust.”
BRICS leaders are also expected to discuss how they can increase direct trade in their own currencies and possibly hold tentative talks on introducing a common unit - an idea that hasn’t gained traction so far.
While the dollar’s demise as the world’s reserve currency has been mooted many times in recent years, so far other pretenders have been competing among themselves and there’s no evidence of a structural dollar decline.
Xi Talks Up Chinese Economy (6:30 p.m., South Africa)
Xi’s statement to the forum offered assurances on the Chinese economy, which has become an object of concern in global financial markets amid flagging growth, a heavily-leveraged property market and risks of deflation.
“The Chinese economy has strong resilience, tremendous potential and great vitality,” Wang said on Xi’s behalf. “The fundamentals sustaining China’s long-term growth will remain unchanged. The giant ship of the Chinese economy will continue to part waves and sail ahead.”
The statement also said that China will remain an “important opportunity for the world’s development,” and that the country will expand market access and improve the climate for foreign businesses.
Lula Urges BRICS Accelerate Steps Toward De-Dollarization (5:46 p.m., South Africa)
Lula said BRICS countries should seek a reference unit in order to accelerate the de-dollarization process.
“I have defended the idea of adopting a reference unit of account for trade, which will not replace our national currencies,” he told a BRICS business forum on Tuesday in Johannesburg, adding that the Global South had already overtaking the weight of the G-7 in terms of purchasing power.
Xi Skips Business Forum Attended by Other BRICS Leaders (5:30 p.m., South Africa)
Xi skipped the BRICS business forum, where he was scheduled to speak according to the official schedule.
His remarks were instead delivered by Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao, who joined the leaders of India, Brazil and South Africa on the stage. There was no immediate explanation for why Xi was unable to take part, though he earlier attended a lunch with host Cyril Ramaphosa.
Russia President Vladimir Putin, who didn’t attend in person to avoid the risk of possible arrest for war crimes, addressed the forum via a pre-recorded video.
Xi Says China to Buy More From South Africa (2:37 p.m., South Africa)
Xi told Ramaphosa during their joint briefing in Pretoria that China is ready to import more “quality products” from South Africa and that it would deepen bilateral cooperation in electricity, new energy and innovation, while encouraging Chinese companies to invest in Africa’s most industrialized nation.
“We believe our countries should be strategic partners, we should deepen political mutual trust,” Xi told his host. “We support substantive progress in G20 and support South Africa employing a greater role. Under current circumstances it is important to step up,” he said.
Saudi Foreign Minister to Attend Summit (1 p.m., South Africa)
Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud is traveling to South Africa on Tuesday on behalf of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, according to a statement issued by the state-run Saudi Press Agency. The prince is expected to hold a number of bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the summit with members of participating countries.
The statement didn’t mention Saudi Arabia’s potential membership of BRICS, something which several countries in the bloc have been pushing as part of the expansion discussions.
German Foreign Minister Questions BRICS Accommodation of Putin (12:40 p.m., South Africa)
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock questioned how BRICS could accommodate Russian President Vladimir Putin, given his decision to halt grain exports via the Black Sea.
“It’s pointless to have a close cooperation within BRICS with a Russian president who has at the same time bombed the grain deal,” she said, while dismissing the notion that a more assertive BRICS could sow global divisions.
“In these times all nations in the world see the importance of cooperation and partnership,” she told reporters in Berlin. “We support freedom of cooperation and partnership. So all nations of the world are free to choose with whom they want to work. It’s completely right that more countries demand a voice. It can’t only be the big countries of the world who decide how the global international order is designed.”
--With assistance from Simone Iglesias, S’thembile Cele, Colleen Goko, Paul Vecchiatto, Ilya Arkhipov, Sudhi Ranjan Sen and Iain Rogers.
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