Meeting of BRICS leaders with the BRICS Business Council

BRICS leaders meet with members of BRICS Business Council

Meeting of BRICS leaders with the BRICS Business Council

The meeting was attended by President of Brazil Dilma Rousseff, President of Russia Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, Chairman of the People's Republic of China Xi Jinping, and President of South Africa Jacob Zuma.


Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to Ufa.

We're happy to see business leaders from the BRICS countries here. You know that we not only ask for your opinions on organising cooperation within BRICS and the principles that should be incorporated into its institutional documents, but we also try to implement them.

Today the BRICS leaders will meet with members of their business communities. I am honoured to give the floor to my BRICS colleagues. We'll also listen to what you have to say, and then I'll sum up the results of our discussion.

The first to take the floor will be the chair of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Proceed, please.

Sergei Katyrin: Mr Putin, BRICS heads of state, colleagues.

Business leaders have taken a very responsible attitude towards the decision to create a business council that was approved at the Durban BRICS Summit. Members of the business community view the BRICS Business Council as yet another practical tool of the strong and ever growing bilateral economic relations aimed at multilateral cooperation.

I'd like to say that the mechanism of cooperation between our business communities has become very effective very quickly. Our work is based on the principles of openness, mutual trust, respect and consideration for each other's interests. We maintain permanent contact with each other in our effort towards multilateral project cooperation, using the available opportunities to achieve this goal.

Acting under the business interests of the BRICS countries and the priorities of the five countries' economic cooperation agenda, we have created industry-related working groups, which include representatives from the companies chosen by BRICS leaders and from other companies that are interested in this project. Their task is to analyse cooperation potential but primarily the obstacles to strengthening our foreign trade. But their key priority is to consider development projects. These working groups have determined that multilateral project cooperation is most promising in transport infrastructure, power generation, mechanical engineering, aircraft manufacturing, mining and resource development.

They also highlighted financial cooperation and the training of professionals. They are also considering projects in farming and in agroindustry within BRICS. The important thing is that the implementation of project initiatives proposed by the working groups will not only be in the interests of BRICS countries, but also takes into account the requirements of the Sub-Saharan countries, Latin America and the CIS.

The BRICS Business Council has also supported the initiative of the Russian Direct Investment Fund on BRICS infrastructure partnership and a joint mechanism for investing in the share capital of infrastructure projects in the member countries.

In addition to the Russian Fund and the Silk Road Development Fund, the partnership comprises the relevant financial institutions of all the five member states. There has been significant progress in creating a framework for exchanging business related information. Currently, the information portal updated by each of the BRICS Business Council national sections continues to improve and is a reliable source of information on the economy, trade and investment. Last May, as part of Russia's Presidency, the Business Council arranged the Meeting of the Heads of Leading Exhibition Companies from BRICS in Moscow. The event was a convincing example of how strongly cooperation between exhibition and display companies is needed. It also became obvious that it is necessary to coordinate and plan national exhibition calendars, develop a more efficient infrastructure for the organizational and technical support of this kind of cooperation.

Less than a month ago, the BRICS Business Forum took place at the St.Petersburg International Economic Forum. The many participants unanimously encouraged the establishment of the New Development Bank expecting assistance in trans-national projects on at least four continents.

Only yesterday, on the eve of this meeting with you, honourable heads of state, the business representatives from the BRICS countries present here today held a meeting of the Business Council. Participants approved the annual report and signed a declaration on the principles for investment cooperation. This meeting led us to discover a new promising aspect of cooperation within BRICS, which is to make use of the potential for interregional cooperation between our countries. The potential of this area is huge, and, in our opinion, it has yet to be tapped.

The discussion we had during the Business Council's meeting with business representatives from the Republic of Bashkortostan proved that regional businesses and companies are willing to establish multidimensional, and primarily industrial, scientific and technical, links with their counterparts in Brazil, India, China and South Africa. We believe that the Council should examine this subject in detail. The Business Council will use the BRICS Economic Cooperation Strategy until 2020 and roadmaps for investment cooperation as a guide for planning its future activities.

Distinguished BRICS heads of state, the Business Council has prepared and submits to your attention a report on its operations for the previous reporting period. It features national sections' initiatives aimed at promoting business cooperation and project development by the BRICS countries. The report is supplemented by the final recommendations developed by the BRICS Business Council's working groups, as well as the Business Council's Declaration on the Principles for Investment Cooperation.

I would like to extend thanks to the Brazilian section of the Business Council for its extensive contribution to drafting these documents and the successful presidency in the Business Council during the previous term. I would also like to convey my gratitude to the heads of other national sections for their invaluable contributions and proposals, which found their way into the final document.

Thank you for your attention.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much, Mr Katyrin. Now I would like to ask my colleagues and friends to give their presentations, share their information.

Let's begin with the Prime Minister of India. Please go ahead, Mr Modi.

Narendra Modi (via interpreter): Your Excellency Mr Putin, Your Excellency Ms Rousseff, Your Excellency Mr Xi, Your Excellency Mr Zuma, and respected members of the BRICS Business Council.

Mr Putin, I would like to thank you for hosting the BRICS Summit. I would also like to thank President Putin for organising this meeting with the BRICS Business Council. We trust that the Business Council meeting will make an enormous contribution to the BRICS' work. We seek to expand cooperation between the BRICS member countries, and no doubt, the Business Council and the meeting with business leaders in this format will help us do so. I am looking forward to hearing the recommendations the Business Council will put forward.

We need to work together to draw up a joint plan and follow it. Economic cooperation is one of the reasons the BRICS was formed as an official group and is the driving force of the BRICS summits.

The BRICS countries account for about 45 percent of the world's population, about 40 percent of world GDP and 18 percent of global trade. The BRICS countries have much in common, along with huge resources that complement each other. Each of our countries has unique expertise, unique features, unique agricultural resources, production and technological resources, as well as enormous human potential that can contribute significantly to sustainable development.

The global economy still remains very fragile. Developed markets, such as, for example, the European Union, are facing big problems. The situation on the financial markets is unstable, and sanctions introduced by various countries are harming the global economy. Therefore, it is very important to deepen cooperation between the BRICS countries.

We must also strive for a stronger commitment from BRICS members to developing entrepreneurship and cooperation with the world's major regions. In my opinion, infrastructure projects, urban development, agricultural production chains, expense reduction, residential construction and infrastructure are the priority areas that offer new opportunities for business and can reinforce our economies. With consideration for the advantages of each of the represented countries that I mentioned, I think we can further fuel the development of the BRICS countries. The companies within BRICS must use any opportunity to improve cooperation and ensure economic growth.

We are working on framework agreements aimed at a stronger economic partnership. The New Development Bank has already become reality and will be managed by a prominent banker from India. Mr Kamath, as I believe, will be a great asset to the very productive operation of the New Development Bank. The Contingent Reserve Arrangement will also begin operating shortly. We expect that it will substantially boost stability in the BRICS countries. I hope that the new arrangements for loans, funding and innovation will be available to you.

The proposal to form the Contingent Reserve Arrangement, I believe, may further encourage additional loans. In the future, we hope to reach agreements between the countries' customs officials. It appears to me that this will also promote trade development.

Adoption of the BRICS Strategy for Economic Partnership will be another very important step for this group. I also welcome the establishment of a BRICS information exchange centre. This online platform could be an important source of the information required for representatives of the business community in our countries.

Later today, I will speak about the proposal regarding the first trade fair hosted by the next BRICS host country. We would be willing to organise such a fair. Let me thank you once again. Thank you very much.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you Mr Prime Minister. Now we'll pass the floor to President of the People's Republic of China, Xi Jinping.

Xi Jinping (via interpreter): Esteemed President Putin, Prime Minister Modi, President Rousseff, President Zuma, esteemed members of the Business Council, ladies and gentlemen, friends, good afternoon! I am delighted with this opportunity to meet once again with the representatives of the Business Council.

Over the past year, the Business Council has put in place an effective cooperation and exchange platform for companies in the BRICS countries and has done a great deal to stimulate trade and economic cooperation among the BRICS countries. I would like to highly praise the effective and constructive work of the Business Council.

The world economy is recovering slowly and with difficulty. There is still the risk of contraction and the pace of development in emerging and developing economies is slowing. The BRICS countries are faced with new challenges. At the same time we believe that the BRICS countries still have great potential for the development of economic cooperation, and the prospects for this cooperation are wide ranging.

Our friends who are here are prominent representatives of the business communities in the BRICS countries. We hope that you will be able to make a new contribution to help the BRICS countries overcome temporary difficulties, meet the challenges and threats, and take economic cooperation to a qualitatively new level. We hope that you will make effective use of the Business Council to coordinate and implement major joint projects to deepen trade and economic cooperation between the BRICS countries. We hope that you will improve your coordination with your governments and present information about the market situation and market demand to them in a timely manner, and based on this, make viable proposals to your governments. We hope that you will take the initiative and do your best to implement the BRICS Economic Cooperation Strategy to make your contribution to strengthening partnership ties between the BRICS countries on the economic level.

Trade and economic cooperation between the BRICS countries is rapidly growing. This cooperation has great potential and great opportunities. I am sure that the members of the Business Council and associates will be able to play a more important role in this great endeavour and open a brighter page of cooperation between the BRICS countries. Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you, Mr President. I now give the floor to the President of the Republic of South Africa Mr Zuma.

Jacob Zuma (via interpreter): Thank you, Your Excellency. President Putin, heads of state and government of the BRICS countries, ministers, chairperson of the BRICS Business Council and Council members, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, it is a great honour for me to speak on such an important occasion, which yet again stresses the extensive contribution by the BRICS countries to development across the world.

We represent a diverse group of nations, with representatives of governments and the business community. This also goes for the leaders of countries in the SCO and the Eurasian Economic Union. We are engaged in constructive dialogues in various areas that provide economic growth opportunities.

Developing countries are currently facing similar social and economic challenges. These included poverty and poverty eradication, promoting sustainable development, fighting inequality, improving the quality of life for the people across the world. These challenges are not new. We have been facing them for a long time, and are implementing a broad range of measures to overcome them. We should now respond to these challenges quickly and efficiently.

The BRICS Summit is being held in an unfavourable economic environment. Economic growth is slow to recover. Nevertheless, I'm proud to say that despite sluggish growth, the BRICS countries have always been on the forefront of global economic recovery. This is related to the creation of a favourable environment for developing exports.

We trade with all countries of the world. In 2009, it was equal to 1.9 trillion US dollars, and reached 2.3 trillion in 2013. South Africa understands that in order to enhance the importance and authority of BRICS in the world, we need to do all we can to create a favourable investment climate and attract potential investors.

In this regard, I welcome the signing of the Declaration on Investment Principles by BRICS Business Council leaders. This document will provide us with a framework for promoting investment cooperation between our countries. In addition, I highly value the working groups that were recently created in various areas, including regulation and agriculture.

It is important to take stock of the BRICS Business Council's successful work. China's initiative to build a north-south railway line, the Trans-African Highway system, South Africa's cooperation with Russia, arms supplies from KAMAZ plants - it is in Ufa that all these initiatives became possible. I'm proud to announce that South Africa's Department of Home Affairs introduced 10-year multiple-entry visas for the BRICS business community as part of an effort to expand ties between the business communities in our countries. I hope this initiative will enable you, industry representatives, to work together in a continuous and sustainable manner and constantly remain in touch. I hope that this initiative reflects a true spirit of partnership within BRICS.

In this regard, I would like to ask other BRICS countries to consider the possibility of coordinating visa regimes within the BRICS group.

Distinguished representatives and members of the BRICS Business Council, you have been tasked with making concerted efforts to free our peoples from the burden of underdevelopment and poverty.

I call on all of you, dear friends, to work with us, to cooperate in addressing these challenges and find new areas for working together that are complementary to the existing initiatives, which in my view is feasible.

Our potential lies in the possibility to combine efforts in articulating issues that are of concern for all of us, and work efficiently on international platforms. We must continue this work, coordinate our approaches, promote economic development in our countries, take them to a new level of development and use the existing potential for our mutual benefit in terms of growth and development.

Rest assured that South Africa is committed to creating a favourable environment for achieving our objectives and priorities.

In conclusion, let me wish the Business Council every success. I'd like to reiterate that South Africa supports this initiative, which I think would be a powerful impetus for all our undertakings that are aimed at moving our relations to a new level so that we can have the place we deserve in the global economy as emerging countries. Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you, President Zuma.

Madam Dilma Rousseff, President of Brazil, go ahead please.

Dilma Rousseff (via interpreter): Mr President Putin of Russia, Mr President Xi Jinping of China, Mr President Zuma of South Africa, Mr Prime Minister Modi of India, ministers, members of the BRICS Business Council, ladies and gentlemen. I'd like to express my high opinion of what President Putin has done to make the BRICS Summit and the meeting of the Business Council possible.

As we are in the midst of a global crisis, we must do our best to strengthen the BRICS' role and influence on global developments. The Business Council must play a strategic role to this end. BRICS currently accounts for approximately 40 percent of global output and is involved in the development of trade around the world. It's clear that developing our trade relations will benefit our nations and the rest of the world.

We should be aware of our responsibility for creating conditions for sustainable development. We remember very well that BRICS made great strides in Fortaleza a year ago when it created the BRICS New Development Bank and Contingent Reserve Arrangement.

All of us appreciate the fact that the agreements on the group's creation have been ratified by all member countries and are being implemented very energetically.

As all other countries that are developing rapidly, we need much bigger investment in our economies. We know that global investment dropped by 40 percent over the past five years. This is why our efforts towards investing in each other's economy are extremely important for the sustainable development of our nations and subsequently other developing countries. We have been working to coordinate our efforts in various spheres, and we should sign new agreements on further developing the New Development Bank. We must support private initiatives for investing in our economies, and our development banks should draft multilateral lending programmes and should develop even more dynamically so as to allow us to use the opportunities offered by cooperation.

Messrs Presidents and members of the Business Council, we hope the council will become a major player in our joint projects. The council's role is highlighted in its annual reports. We are aware of its importance for expanding business ties and investment relations between our countries and for encouraging economic development.

We are now considering about 40 projects that are of interest to the BRICS countries in industry, transport, information technology and other modern technologies. We hope our governments will closely examine the experience accumulated by the Business Council and the future experience of the New Development Bank. We must coordinate our macroeconomic strategies towards sustainable economic growth. To stimulate investment, we should ease government control of the economy and give more freedom to companies and sole proprietors.

We in Brazil are launching a challenging project for creating new infrastructure that will meet modern requirements. This includes new motorways, railway lines, ports and airports.

Of course, we will continue working on the BRICS Strategy for Economic Partnership aimed at improving the business climate and free trade in all spheres.

We also want to set up a single business portal for the BRICS countries which could help increase the exchange of information, including any new conditions for investment that are created in our countries. Last year in Fortaleza, we approved a plan to promote private investment, and here at the Russian summit, we are working to simplify investment procedures and formalities, and to harmonise our technical standards.

We hope Russia will help with the use of our hydroelectric power resources, as well as renewable energy resources. We hope to cooperate with the BRICS countries in scientific research, microbiology, and electronics. And I fully agree with what was said during the Business Council meeting about the importance of education for all our countries at the moment - an education that will allow the next generation to attain ever more ambitious goals. We really need to put what we call the knowledge economy on a modern track. In Brazil we are implementing a project called Brazil: A country of education.

Ladies and gentlemen, let us remember that BRICS brings together not only governments, but takes in other groups, especially in the economic sector. Harmonising the efforts of governments and the private sector is the main condition for progress in the future. We will continue working together toward this end. Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Esteemed colleagues, ladies and gentlemen! Allow me, above all, to thank the state leaders - the President of Brazil, the Prime Minister of India, the Chairman of the People's Republic of China and the President of the South African Republic - for your substantive and interesting presentations; also the Chairman of your Council, Mr Katyrin, and all of you for your efforts prior to our summit.

Just before the meeting with the business community, I had a brief discussion with the leaders of the trade union associations in our countries. They have also made proposals to their leaders in the hope that they will be taken into consideration during the preparation of our documents and the organisation of our practical activity. And this is exactly the way it will be. We will definitely bear in mind the trade unions' proposals. I cannot but agree with them in that optimal compromise solutions in ensuring sustainable development and the steady improvement in the wellbeing of our countries' citizens can be found through cooperation between businesses, representatives of labour collectives, i.e., trade union associations, and governments.

Unfortunately, our work schedule does not allow us to open such a wide-ranging discussion now, which would be interesting both for you and for my colleagues. I have no doubt about this. I want to assure you, however, that we will definitely take into account your proposals, formulated in the course of the preliminary work. Even now, there is every reason to say - and you know this very well - that your Council's proposals, your proposals served as a basis for our decisions regarding the broader use of national currencies in trade and economic exchanges. With some countries, we have even created contingent reserve arrangements. For example, with the People's Republic of China, our national banks have agreed on corresponding volumes of resources, organised the swap, and the first rouble/yuan futures have already been traded.

I believe this could benefit relations and trade with India, Brazil and South Africa.

We have launched a dialogue on standardizing e-commerce rules upon your recommendation, ladies and gentlemen. We are also considering introducing a simplified visa regime for business people, also at your initiative.

As this meeting's chairman, I'd like to say that favourable conditions are being created in Russia for strengthening cooperation in all spheres, including investment and trade. I'd like to add in this connection that we have maintained the foundations created in the Russian economy in the past 10 to 15 years despite the current global economic difficulties, which have had an impact on Russia. We are keeping unemployment at a very low level, 5.8 percent. We have maintained our reserves. We have a positive trade balance and we are keeping the national currency rate within an acceptable range. Taken together, this allows us to believe that we will overcome the current problems in cooperation with our colleagues.

Also, I'd like to draw your attention to the additional opportunities that the Eurasian Economic Union offers to the BRICS business community.

Ladies and gentlemen, please accept my sincere gratitude for attending this meeting. I hope that our business communities will continue to provide an invaluable contribution towards coordinating the economic development of our countries.

This ends our meeting today.

Thank you for your cooperation.