The photo taken on Sept 4, 2017 shows the BRICS Business Forum 2017 held in Xiamen, Fujian province. (LI XIN / XINHUA)
Marine or "blue" economy will become a new growth engine for BRICS countries to narrow the gap with developed economies, especially in areas that demand cutting-edge technology, modern infrastructure and advanced machinery, business leaders said on Monday.
"The oceans are strategically important to BRICS countries - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. A part of their development potential lies in the oceans, if they are sustainably developed over the next decade," said Chen Fenjian, president of China Communication Construction Co.
Marine economy has been dominated by shipping, fishing, aquaculture, and oil and gas. It now includes sectors such as marine chemistry, biomedicine, ocean power, seawater use, marine tourism, ocean engineering and construction.
BRICS countries, with their long coasts and vast maritime territory, are seeking to gain significant economic advantages from the sea through these and other pursuits.
"Russia is learning China's years of progress in developing its economy through modern ports, maritime research institutes and international cooperation," said Alexei Chekunkov, chief executive officer of Russia's Far East Development Fund.
Eager to diversify its earning ability, the Russian fund plans to develop such things as the ocean tourism, mining and fishery industries by 2025.
As a first step, BRICS countries should intensify their cooperation in ports, shipping and ocean-related infrastructure businesses to further stimulate trade and investment activities, said Li Jianhong, chairman of China Merchants Group. Ocean shipping is also cheaper and more environmentally friendly than trains or air cargo services.
Trade volume between China and other BRICS countries grew by 26 percent year-on-year to US$167.07 billion in the first seven months of this year, and the majority of these goods were transported by sea, according to the General Administration of Customs.
However, challenges remain. Marcelo Veloso, commercial director of Port Acu, Brazil, said BRICS countries urgently need to improve port efficiency to boost shipping and cut waste in material and labor costs. Many port facilities in Brazil need to be upgraded are looking for financing opportunities from other BRICS economies.
"Adequately developing the marine economy will help solve employment problems and also address the issue of raw materials shortages, thereby spurring economic activity and boosting trade flows," said Yu Jianlong, secretary-general of the Beijing-based China Chamber of International Commerce.
"BRICS countries need to develop a new policy for the marine sector to tackle pollution, excessive development, smuggling and terrorism on the sea," he said.
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