Russian Diplomat Explains Why Free Trade Zone Not Yet BRICS Priority

Russian Diplomat Explains Why Free Trade Zone Not Yet BRICS Priority
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REUTERS / StringerBusiness06:47 18.05.2018Get short URL
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WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – A creation of a free trade zone is currently not a priority for the member countries of BRICS, however, it is not ruled out in the future, Head of BRICS Office at Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mikhail Kalugin told Sputnik.

“As for the free trade zone, so far this is not a priority for BRICS,” Kalugin said on Thursday. “I want to note that in the areas of trade and investment, our main priority is removing barriers, simplifying procedures related to trade and investments. This work is always ongoing in the working groups. Given the geographical dispersion of our countries, and differences in the economies — while this is not a priority for us, I would not exclude it in the future.”

The diplomat also said that BRICS would eventually increase mutual trade in national currencies although it might take years.

“A financial sector is one of the most promising for BRICS. A lot has already been achieved, and much is still ahead, for example, increasing the role of national currencies in mutual payments. This is one of the most relevant issues, and we are working on it,” Kalugin said on Thursday. “Of course, it requires time, it can’t happen in one day, and it may even require years for a share of a national currency to grow, but I think that it will objectively be happening.” Kalugin also noted that BRICS nations are working on improving ties between the national rating agencies.

The MFA’s BRICS Office head said that Russia would like to have a platform within BRICS for energy research that would lead to joint projects in this area and boost cooperation on counterterrorism.

“Russia is promoting a number of initiatives. We hope that there will be agreements on them this year as well,” Kalugin said. “These initiatives include the creation of a platform for BRICS energy research which would allow the scientists and experts from our countries to exchange information on energy markets, hold joint reviews of energy markets and subsequently launch joint projects in the energy area.”

With respect to other projects, Kalugin pointed out how South Africa, which will host the next BRICS summit on July 25-27, wants to increase cooperation in areas such as counterterrorism and peacekeeping.

He also added that the top diplomats of the BRICS countries would discuss the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that governs Iran’s nuclear program at the meeting scheduled to take place in the South African city of Pretoria at the beginning of next month.

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