'BRICS Business Council looking at boosting intra-group trade'

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​New Delhi, Oct 7 (IANS) The BRICS Business Council is looking into low trade volume among the five emerging economies, while recent agreements in areas like customs coopration are attempts to lower trade barriers among member-nations, the Indian government said on Friday.

"The BRICS Business Council has looked into this aspect of low trade volumes between the group members. In fact, the agreement on customs cooperation is aimed precisely at increasing trade by reducing trade barriers," Secretary (External Relations) Amar Sinha told reporters at an External Affairs Ministry briefing here on the upcoming summit of BRICS leaders in Goa later this month.

India is the chair for 2016 of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) group of emerging economies.

"Of the more than 100 events planned around the BRICS Summit 2016, five are specifically dedicated to business. All the leaders wanted emphasis on increasing business-to-business and people-to-people contact," Sinha said.

In 2012, intra-BRICS trade stood at $281.4 billion which increased to $297 billion in 2014.

"This encouraging trend needs to be strengthened as trade amongst BRICS nations is less than five per cent of their total global trade," India's Commerce Ministry said in a release earlier this week.

The External Affairs Ministry announced that the BRICS summit this year includes an "outreach" to the BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) initiative that includes India and is a key component of its "Act East" policy.

"A BIMSTEC (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand) and BRICS business leaders meeting will be held in Delhi on October 14," Sinha said.

The first trade fair of the BRICS countries will be held here next week on October 12-14, as well as meetings of the BRICS Business Forum and BRICS Business Council, ahead of the leaders' summit in Goa, it was announced here on Friday.

"The first BRICS Trade Fair and Exhibition will be staged just ahead of the BRICS political summit in Goa (October 15-16). This major initiative was proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year during his address to the members of the BRICS Business Council at Ufa, Russia," the Commerce Ministry release said.

"There is a need felt for measures to be taken to deepen intra-BRICS economic engagement, trade and investment ties," it added.

Their upcoming trade fair will be held at Pragati Maidan in Delhi. According to the release, the trade fair will showcase about 20 key sectors.

These include aerospace, agro-processing, auto and auto components, chemicals, green energy and renewables, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, railways, textiles and apparel, infrastructure, information technology, engineering goods, tourism, gems and jewellery and skill development.

According to the Commerce Ministry, the BRICS Business Forum, to be held on October 13, will see participation from over 1,000 business delegates from all BRICS countries.

The BRICS Business Council was established during the fifth BRICS Summit in Durban, South Africa, with the objective of strengthening business, trade and investment ties amongst the business communities of the five countries.

The most important development under BRICS has been the creation of the New Development Bank which aims to serve as a source of finance for developing and emerging economies to meet their developmental needs, the statement said.

Global merchandise exports of BRICS countries have gone up from $3.2 trillion in 2012 to $3.47 trillion in 2014.

Similarly, merchandise imports from the world into BRICS nations have gone up from $2.95 trillion in 2012 to $3.03 trillion in 2014.

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