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International relations

BRICS leaders voice solidarity against protectionism

First summit since Trump's tariffs highlights importance of 'open' world economy

Leaders at the 10th annual BRICS summit expressed their commitment to multilateralism. (Photo by India's Press Information Bureau)

NEW DELHI -- Against the backdrop of trade tensions triggered by U.S. President Donald Trump, leaders of the world's five major economies have highlighted the importance of an "open" world economy that allows all countries to share the benefits of globalization.

"We recognize that the multilateral trading system is facing unprecedented challenges," read a declaration signed on Thursday by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa during the 10th BRICS summit in Johannesburg. "We call on all [World Trade Organization] members to abide by WTO rules and honor their commitments in the multilateral trading system."

This is the first BRICS summit since Trump imposed tariffs on goods worth billions of dollars from around the word, especially those from China.

The BRICS Declaration reflects the bloc's solidarity against protectionist forces and its interest in solidifying economic relationships between its member states and beyond.

"We reaffirm the centrality of the rules-based, transparent, non-discriminatory, open and inclusive multilateral trading system, as embodied in the [WTO], that promotes a predictable trade environment and the centrality of the WTO," said the declaration.

The Trump administration early this month imposed tariffs on $34 billion worth of Chinese goods, prompting a tit-for-tat response from Beijing, which levied taxes on the same value of U.S. imports. The U.S. then unveiled an additional list of over 6,000 Chinese imports worth $200 billion that it plans to hit with tariffs, roiling financial markets.

Addressing a BRICS business forum, Chinese President Xi Jinping called on the bloc's members to uphold multilateralism. "We should urge all parties to fully observe collectively adopted international rules, and we should treat all countries as equals regardless of their size," Xi said, according to China's official Xinhua News Agency.

"It is important for us to firmly support the multilateral trading regime, advance global economic governance reform, and increase the representation and voice of emerging markets and developing countries," he added.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also expressed New Delhi's commitment to multilateralism. The prime minister held bilateral talks with leaders, including Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin, on the sidelines of the three-day summit, which ended Friday.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, left, during a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Johannesburg on Thursday. (Photo by India's Press Information Bureau)

"At the session with fellow BRICS leaders, I shared my thoughts on various global issues, the importance of technology, skill development and how effective multilateral cooperation creates a better world," Modi said in a tweet.

Touching on other global issues, the BRICS Declaration called on all parties to the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal "to fully comply with their obligations and ensure full and effective implementation of the [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] to promote international and regional peace and security."

The BRICS leaders also welcomed recent developments to achieve the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and maintain peace and stability in Northeast Asia. "We reaffirm the commitment for a peaceful, diplomatic and political solution to the situation," the declaration said.

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