JOAHNNESBURG: The days of the US dollar’s domination of trade among BRICS countries are numbered, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday.
Putin told the bloc’s summit that members would discuss switching trade away from the dollar and into national currencies, and the BRICS New Development Bank would play a key role.
“The objective, irreversible process of de-dollarization of our economic ties is gaining momentum,” he said.
Security has been boosted across Johannesburg, where South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is hosting China’s President Xi Jinping, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and about 50 other leaders.
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Farhan bin Faisal is leading the Kingdom’s delegation at the summit, where the bloc of large emerging economies seeks to assert its voice as a counterweight to the Western-led international order. The BRICS members — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — represent more than 40percent of the world’s population.
Putin, unable to attend in person because of an International Criminal Court arrest warrant, addressed the summit by video. He said the bloc was on course to meet the aspirations of most of the world’s population.
“We cooperate on the principles of equality, partnership support, respect for each other’s interests, and this is the essence of the future-oriented strategic course of our association, a course that meets the aspirations of the main part of the world community, the so-called global majority,” he said.
Despite Putin’s rejection of the dollar, Brazilian President Lula da Silva said a common BRICS trading currency would be aimed solely at easing trade between emerging nations. “We do not want to be a counterpoint to the G7, G20 or the US,” Lula said. “We just want to organize ourselves.”
Lula also said he was in favor of other countries joining the alliance, mentioning Indonesia as a potential new member.
The three-day summit will hear calls for more economic cooperation and collaboration in areas such as health, education and climate change — but with a growing sentiment that the developing world is not being served by Western-led institutions.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa held separate talks with Xi in Pretoria, and said he was seeking “Chinese support for South Africa and Africa’s call for the reform of global governance institutions, notably the UN Security Council.”