BRICS countries have long-term potential

The BRICS Agenda: Boccanera, Lin, Jaitley, Neri, Kudrin, Ghosn
The BRICS Agenda: Boccanera, Lin, Jaitley, Neri, Kudrin, Ghosn

Ministers, industrialists and academics from the BRICS countries delivered a strong message of long-term potential economic growth for their countries at a panel session at yesterday’s World Economic Forum, in Davos, Switzerland. The message was clear – BRICS nations are ripe for investment, and will continue to be provided their governments successfully implement planned structural reforms.

“We continue to invest in all these countries, because we invest not for the next two or three years, but for the next 10 or 15 years,” said Carlos Ghosn, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Renault-Nissan Alliance, France. Ghosn emphasized that despite the adjustments currently taking place in the BRICS countries, they are all capable of strong growth.

Justin Lin, Professor, National School of Development, Peking University, People’s Republic of China, said that China would have to depend less on exports and more on domestic consumption and investment, but the government’s strong balance sheet and high private savings will facilitate this transition. “I am confident that China will be able to maintain a 7% growth rate over the next five or even 10 years. China will continue to be an engine of world growth,” Lin said.

Arun Jaitley, Minister of Finance, Corporate Affairs and Information and Broadcasting of India, said India intended to return to an 8%-9% growth rate. Jaitley said the recent change in government has led to clarity about the path forward and a changed mindset, inside and outside the country. “The world is looking at India again,” he said. Lower oil prices are helping India’s current account balance and bringing down inflation, he added.

“Russia will have to learn how to live with more moderate oil prices,” Alexei Kudrin, Professor and Dean, School of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Saint Petersburg State University, Russian Federation, told participants. Kudrin said lower prices were obliging Russia to make structural reforms and diversify its economy in a way that would benefit the country in the long term.

Marcelo Côrtes Neri, Minister of Strategic Affairs of Brazil, said Brazil is returning to the “middle path” it had originally begun in 2003: a combination of redistributive social programmes and market-friendly economic policy. He added that the country’s recent slow growth has not prevented impressive social achievements. “In Brazil inequality has fallen, and fallen sharply, since 2001,” he said.

South Africa too is taking concrete steps to rebalance its economy while maintaining strong social programmes, Nhlanhla Musa Nene, Minister of Finance of South Africa, said. Nene said the government is working to improve the environment for the private sector, to make the public sector more efficient, and to make the government more accountable to its citizens. Fiscal restraint is needed at present, but “we will continue to develop infrastructure and to protect the poor”.