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President of Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Sergey Katyrin: harmonious integration of newcomer countries into agenda of BRICS Business Council is main challenge of current year

The Council has formed a tight schedule of events in connection with Russia's chairmanship in the group

Sergey Katyrin, President of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who attended the Annual Investment Congress (AIM Congress 2024) in the capital of the UAE, spoke in an exclusive interview with TV BRICS about the work of the BRICS Business Council, which he chairs. He explained what priorities the structure has in view of Russia's chairmanship in the association this year.

What priorities are guiding the BRICS Business Council this year in view of Russia's presidency? Are there any fundamentally new aspects?

This year we are guided, first of all, by the goals and objectives that have been relevant for the BRICS Business Council since its establishment 10 years ago. These are, first of all:

  • development and strengthening of trade, economic and investment cooperation between the BRICS countries;
  • formation of a common trade and economic space of the association;
  • identifying and eliminating barriers to the development of business ties.

We identify a number of priority areas of work that are the most relevant and maximally correspond to the existing “demand” on the part of the business community of the BRICS member countries.

First, it is the creation of a “seamless” transportation and logistics infrastructure within the group, improvement of communications, including through the development of the railroad network. Second, the creation of a sustainable system of financial settlements, payment services and a mechanism for BRICS credit ratings, as well as the development of cooperation between insurance markets. Third, the creation of a unified digital infrastructure, as well as cooperation in the field of artificial intelligence. Traditionally, we continue our joint work in agriculture, energy, and professional training.

What is new in our work is the harmonious integration of newcomer countries into the current agenda of the Business Council.

What events are planned before the summit in Kazan?

There will be more than 20 different forums, conferences, competitions, etc. I will list the most significant of them. First, there is the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. As before, the Russian part of the Business Council is holding a BRICS thematic session there. This year it will take place on June 6. On the same day, a round table on the BRICS business community cooperation on the North-South ITC project is scheduled.

These events will be preceded by the BRICS Baking Competition. Traditionally, the annual BRICS Sustainable Development Best Practices Competition will be held in October. The BRICS Financial Forum is also scheduled to be held in the fall.

As for the key events within the Business Council, they will be held on October 17 – 18 in Moscow at the World Trade Center. Namely, the final working group meetings and the Annual Meeting of the BRICS Business Council on October 17 and the BRICS Business Forum on October 18. The culmination of our agenda will be the meeting of the BRICS Business Council leaders with the heads of the BRICS member countries on October 22 in Kazan.

In view of the BRICS expansion, how is the work on the integration of new member countries into the BRICS Business Council being carried out?

I would like to note that integration begins, first of all, with the appointment of the Chairman of the national part of the Business Council and official representatives. To date, only Egypt has appointed its representatives to the BRICS Business Council. The work with other “newcomers” is conducted through the diplomatic missions of these countries in Moscow, as well as through the sherpas/sous-sherpas mechanism at the level of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. For our part, we are trying to make maximum use of the platforms of bilateral and multilateral international business forums to familiarise our colleagues from the new member countries with the Business Council, its main goals and objectives, and to remind them that we are waiting for the appointment of official representatives.

Sustainable development is of paramount importance now. Are there any events on the list of planned events related to this topic, which includes both environmental protection and the formation of the most comfortable space for future generations?

Yes, absolutely. In 2020, under the auspices of Russia's BRICS chairmanship, the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry together with the Agency for Strategic Initiatives (ASI) launched the BRICS Solutions for SDG Awards, an international competition of best practices in sustainable development. The successful experience made it possible to make the competition one of the annual BRICS events, the organisation of which is passed by baton from one chairing country to another. We plan to organise it again this year. The competition will be aimed at finding new solutions and sharing successful practices among the BRICS business community in the field of sustainable development.

Most experts consider the BRICS to be a driving force for global growth, trade and investment. This thesis is based on the dynamic development of the BRICS economies, high rates of modernisation and innovation, a consistent and balanced foreign policy agenda aimed at supporting progressive socio-economic transformation and ensuring stability and security in the modern world.

The BRICS countries' share of global nominal GDP will reach 30 per cent by 2030, up from 26 per cent in 2022 and just over 8 per cent in 2000. According to some projections, in 2050, the combined GDP of the current BRICS members will exceed 90 per cent of the GDP of all developed countries, which will be a qualitatively different picture of the world.

The potential for economic co-operation among the BRICS countries is enormous. However, much remains to be done. First of all, to achieve greater diversification of the structure and spheres of co-operation, to improve the balance of mutual trade.

To expand cooperation in all spheres, it is necessary to stimulate trade and improve its regulation, as well as to create a favourable investment climate within the association. In particular, the growth of foreign trade turnover between the BRICS countries can be facilitated by:

  • reduction of administrative barriers;
  • elimination of tariff and non-tariff restrictions;
  • improvement of the regulatory and legal framework.

Much attention in the global agenda is paid to the development of neural networks. Does the Business Council plan any events dedicated to the use of artificial intelligence?

Yes, absolutely. The fact that artificial intelligence will become the key technology of the future is a recognised fact. Due to the high importance of this topic for the BRICS business community, we have singled it out as the main topic on the agenda of the BRICS Business Council Working Group on the Digital Economy. Its key task is to form a common artificial intelligence governance structure.

The Investment Congress is being held for the 13th time. How you assess the dynamics of its development and the results for Russia over the past 10 years.

The congress pays special attention to startups. Does the BRICS Business Council have any special plans for co-operation in supporting such projects? The Business Council has a Working Group on Professional Training, Applied Technology and Innovation, which brings together owners and employees of startups from BRICS countries. Thus, in 2024, more than 700 representatives of BRICS countries were trained in high-tech competences of high-tech industries and promising markets. Traditionally, representatives of startups take an active part in the BRICS International Championship of Advanced Technologies and Skills (BRICS+ Open Championship). This year, digital and technological solutions will be developed, which can later be brought to the markets of the BRICS+ countries.

How does the BRICS Business Council approach shaping the agenda of co-operation between the BRICS regions? Are there any priority areas this year?

The International Municipal Forum of the BRICS+ countries, in which the BC traditionally takes part and provides extensive information support, is dedicated to this topic. The decision to create such an event was taken at the BRICS Ministerial Summit held in July 2018 in South Africa.
The Forum is focused on:

  • socio-economic development of regional and municipal territories;
  • increasing the investment attractiveness of cities in Russia and other BRICS countries;
  • strengthening relations between the BRICS countries.

In 2022, for the first time, an exhibition exposition of the BRICS+ IMF was organised, where companies and regions presented their products, investment projects, achievements in socio-economic, cultural, scientific and industrial development.

The next VI BRICS+ International Municipal Forum will be held on 26-28 August in Moscow.

How does the BRICS Business Council contribute to the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?

One of the main tasks of the Business Council is traditionally to develop recommendations to the BRICS leaders, the implementation of which will contribute to the sustainable development of both the national economies of the BRICS member countries and the BRICS as a whole.

The UN SDGs include combating climate change, introducing innovative technologies, developing infrastructure based on "clean" sources, and fighting hunger.All these issues are included in the list of topics on which the BRICS Business Council working groups focus their activities.

The results of the work of the Business Council are reflected in the annual report, which is traditionally presented to the Heads of State during the BRICS Business Forum. Based on these proposals, the BRICS Business Council issues instructions to the national governments of the BRICS member countries to their agencies and organisations. The BRICS Business Council is actively involved in the implementation of the UN SDGs.

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