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President of Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Sergey Katyrin: experts expect BRICS to account for 90 per cent of global GDP by 2050

The Chairman of the Russian part of the BRICS Business Council spoke about the prospects of the association's development

Sergey Katyrin was born in 1954 in the Moscow Region. He graduated from the Moscow Automobile and Road Construction State Technical University (MADI) and the School of International Relations at the Moscow State University (MGIMO) of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He took an active part in the creation and establishment of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI). He has been its president since March 2011. Katyrin also serves as Chairman of the Russian part of the BRICS Business Council and the national part of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Business Council on behalf of the Russian Federation.

In an exclusive interview with TV BRICS, he spoke about how BRICS' role on the world stage will grow given the group's expansion.

In 2024, Russia chairs BRICS, which has already united 10 states. What will be the main directions of the group for this year, given its expansion?

We have outlined several areas that we consider to be priorities during our presidency. And at the business meeting of the Council our colleagues supported our endeavours. The first is, of course, transport and logistics connectivity of the BRICS countries. It has always been important to be able to deliver cargo quickly and cheaply.

The second is finance. One of the main tasks is to create a payment system that could be used by all BRICS countries, regardless of other countries. This is a very serious issue. We are currently making great progress on this issue: up to 80 per cent of mutual settlements are made in national currencies.

The third is artificial intelligence (AI). Today, technologies based on it are present in all spheres of activity. To date, there are no rules of the game, no norms for working with it. This situation carries not only ethical risks, but also physical risks: in industry, in transport, in personal security, and in many other areas. Therefore, of course, one of the topics is to develop rules for working with AI that will be adhered to not only by the BRICS countries, but also by many partner states.

How will the BRICS enlargement affect the work of the Business Council in terms of content and organisation? Will there be, for example, new working groups?

In terms of the activities of the working groups, each has presented what it will be doing during the year. Each of them has quite a rich programme. The countries that will join BRICS in 2024 will be able to formulate their proposals for the creation of new groups, and these structures will probably appear the following year. I do not rule out that the new countries can seriously supplement the agenda that has been formed so far. I think that the main priorities will surely be supported by everyone, because they are important for everyone.

In your opinion, how much will the role of the association in the world arena strengthen after its expansion?

I will tell you right away in figures. In 2000, the BRICS share in the world GDP was 8 per cent. This year it is 26 per cent. In 2030, it will be 30 per cent. And in 2050, experts expect the association's share of global GDP to be 90 per cent. So draw conclusions from that. As of today, we see serious dynamics, we are talking about the composition of the BRICS as of 2024.

If we take into account the fact that we have new applications to join the group (I am not sure that they will be accepted during this presidency, although I do not rule out this option), it is clear that the share of BRICS countries in global GDP will certainly increase.

What are your expectations regarding the development of foreign trade relations within the BRICS group in the near future?

Today, the BRICS countries own 40 per cent of the world's hydrocarbons. It is clear that this is both influence and prospects. The first thing that needs to be done to realise all the opportunities, of course, is to remove tariff and non-tariff restrictions in foreign trade. It is also necessary to improve customs legislation, the regulatory framework in a multilateral manner. Of course, this is the work not only of the top leadership of the countries, but also of legislators. Parliamentarians should also endeavour to simplify mutual trade and the interconnection of the BRICS economies.

How will the nuances of legislation in different countries affect the development of foreign trade? What should be taken into account?

It is worth taking into account the restrictions (tariff and non-tariff) peculiar to different countries. They exist in many countries, for example, a ban on trade in certain goods. Naturally, in order to overcome any restrictions, it is necessary to negotiate. There can be no one-sided benefit. There is a lot of work here for governments, various ministries, agencies and, of course, legislators.

What measures should be taken to ensure that mutual trade between the BRICS countries grows even faster and the business climate within the association continues to improve?

We should try to remove restrictions as much as possible and create a legal framework for expanding trade. That is the first thing. Secondly, of course, we should not only look at the laws, we also need to develop infrastructure. What to use for transport? And where to unload it? And so on. Do you understand? There are no trifles here.

It is good if the regulatory framework allows you to bring something into your partner's country. But where to bring it? Where will it be stored? How will it be transported? Who will process it, if it needs to be processed? If it's going to be traded, how will it be traded? If it is complex equipment, it must be serviced, conditions must be created for spare parts and so on. So you need a dealer network. So there are a lot of questions concerning expansion. Naturally, this can only happen if there is mutual desire and agreement.

How, in your opinion, can the logistics system be optimised, given the remoteness of the member countries of the association from each other?

There are several directions here, our working group is working on it. The first is related to the development of railway transport. There are already agreements in this area: for example, we need to complete a part of the 120 km long track in Iran to make the railway to India fully operational. The second direction is the development of shipping, including our Northern Sea Route, the organisation of other transport corridors, and the overall use of the transport potential of all BRICS countries. There are great opportunities here. We need to negotiate so that each container and each cargo spends a minimum amount of time at the border.

Tell us about your point of view on the prospects for introducing artificial intelligence technologies in the digital economy? How relevant is it?

This is one of the most topical issues for discussions, and not only in the BRICS Business Council. It is a serious topic related to the possibilities of AI for manufacturing, healthcare, other sectors and the security of individuals, the state, transport and so on.

It is a serious topic. In my opinion, with certain agreements, it would be possible to shorten the time for the introduction of AI in some spheres.

How do you think the system of settlements in national currencies within BRICS will develop in the near future? And what is your attitude to the use of cryptocurrency and digital assets in mutual settlements?

As for settlements in national currencies, I spoke about this earlier. The Russian State Duma has recently passed a law that makes it possible to use digital assets. We have the digital ruble, the Chinese have the digital yuan. I think that digital units in other countries are not far off. I believe that cryptocurrencies can be used in trade with other countries. The sooner we agree with our colleagues on the mechanisms for using digital assets, the easier it will be for us. Of course, if such settlements are launched, many BRICS countries will be able to use them, but not all.

What do you expect to be the main results of the Russian BRICS Chairmanship this year?

We have set quite ambitious goals for each working group and would like, of course, for these goals to be achieved in each of the areas. This applies to artificial intelligence, mutual settlements, transport, logistics and so on. We have already set up a subgroup on transport and logistics. We hope that it will eventually grow into a separate group from infrastructure.

We have quite serious ideas. We are pleased that, at least at today's meeting, members of the Business Council of other countries supported us. I believe that by our joint efforts we will be able to formulate a list of proposals to the leadership of the states, governments, and parliaments of our countries in the near future. This is the main task.

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