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From Goa to Xiamen: Prospects for China's 2017 BRICS Summit

Alissa Wang, BRICS Research Group
October 20, 2016

At the recent BRICS Goa  Summit on October 15-16, 2016, of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, Chinese president Xi Jinping delivered a speech titled "Stressing to Cement Confidence and Seek Common Development, " in which he outlined five priorities for BRICS cooperation: building an open economy, constructing a shared vision for global development, strengthening cooperation on key global challenges, reforming the current international system for greater fairness and representativeness, and strengthening intra-BRICS cooperation. He subsequently announced that China would host the next BRICS summit in Xiamen in September 2017.
The choice of Xiamen to host the next BRICS summit shows that openness in the global trade and investment system will have an important place on the agenda in 2017. As Xi stated in Goa, the BRICS "should push forward structural reform, break a new path for growth, develop [an] open economy, stand against any form of protectionism and take the big market in economy and trade, full circulation in finance, absolute connectivity in infrastructure and great people-to-people and cultural exchanges as starting points to walk in the forefront of international opening up and cooperation." In regards to China's economic reform, Xiamen is significant as it is a key coastal city, a classic export city and one of the first "special economic zones " in China. Historically, Xiamen has been a window into the Chinese economy; it was the pilot city for many market-oriented economic reform experiments, and a free trade zone and hub for attracting foreign industries. Xiamen is a symbol of China's ambitions to reform, to open up to the global economy and to "break" a new path for itself in the international order.
The promotion of openness in the global economy will be probably be closely linked to promoting intra-BRICS cooperation through strengthening intra-BRICS trade and investment ties, and through closely integrating BRICS countries into the One Belt One Road initiative . Xiamen is a symbol of BRICS cooperation in trade and investment. In 2011, it hosted the China International Fair for Investment and Trade, where the five BRICS leaders jointly participated for the first time. Xiamen is also an export site with some of the busiest trade relations with India, South Africa and Brazil. During the week of the Goa Summit, China's foreign ministry elevated the status of the One Belt One Road initiative as a national priority. At a follow-up meeting of the leaders of the BRICS members and the five South Asian countries comprising the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), Xi stated that both organizations should "boost the organic docking between the 'Belt and Road' construction and relevant BIMSTEC plans, facilitate infrastructure construction and connectivity and strive for common development ." Xi also stated at the BRICS-BIMSTEC Summit that "these important initiatives, fully embodying the BRICS spirit featuring openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation, not only are conducive to improving the 'Belt and Road' pattern, pushing forward regional countries' economic and social development and opening up new prospects for the BRICS cooperation and Asia cooperative at large, but also exert positive significance in advancing South-South cooperation and elevating the overall strength and international discourse right of emerging markets and developing countries ."

Xi's speeches in Goa at the BRICS and BIMSTEC summits reveal important insights into the priorities of the next BRICS summit he will host in China. The 2017 summit, in the very fitting host city of Xiamen, will likely push for China's One Belt One Road initiative, strengthened intra-BRICS trade and investment relations and increased openness in the global economy.

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Alissa Wang
Alissa Wang is the chair of summit studies for the BRICS Research Group, and a research assistant at the G7 and G8 Research Group, the G20 Research Group, and the Global Health Diplomacy Program, based at the Munk School of Global Affairs in Trinity College at the University of Toronto. She is pursuing an undergraduate degree with a specialist in international relations, a major in global health and a minor in political science. She is an editor for the reports produced by the G20 Research Group summit studies team, an analyst for the G7 Research Group summit studies team, and works on compliance research. Alissa is interested in Chinese history and politics as well as China's role in global governance. She was a member of the field team at the G7 Elmau Summit in Germany in 2015, the G7 Ise Shima Summit in Japan in 2016 and the G20 Hangzhou Summit in China in 2016.

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