BRICS summit expected to oppose trade protectionism, China says

China is being criticized to have done little to remove its own discriminatory policies and market barriers that favor Chinese companies. (Reuters)
Updated 03 September 2017

BRICS summit expected to oppose trade protectionism, China says

XIAMEN, China: A meeting of the BRICS group of emerging economies is expected to rally against trade protectionism, China’s vice trade minister said on Sunday, the first day of the summit in southeastern China.
The heads of state from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa will gather in the city of Xiamen through Tuesday, giving China as host its latest chance to position itself as a bulwark of globalization in the face of US President Donald Trump’s “America First” agenda.
BRICS leaders will be joined by observer countries Thailand, Mexico, Egypt, Guinea and Tajikistan, and officials will discuss a “BRICS Plus” plan to possibly expand the bloc to new members.
Among the observers, Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto is set to be in China to discuss trade and investment, as Trump has renewed threats to scrap the 23-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement that he has labeled a killer of US jobs.
“We expect to reach consensus for actions in support of the multilateral trade system and oppose trade protectionism,” Vice Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen told a briefing ahead of the opening ceremony for a BRICS business meeting, where Chinese President Xi Jinping will speak.
Wang did not elaborate on those actions, but said China was interested in possibly establishing a free trade agreement with Mexico.
In July, Xi called on members of the Group of 20 nations to champion an open world economy, and as a keynote speaker at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January offered a vigorous defense of globalization.
But those remarks are cold comfort to some critics of China, foreign business groups and governments alike, who say China has done little to remove its own discriminatory policies and market barriers that favor Chinese companies.
The BRICS summit comes just a week after China and India agreed to end a more than two-month standoff between hundreds of troops in a Himalayan border area, which had put a sidelines meeting between Xi and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in question.
The standoff was the latest example how BRICS countries, while sharing certain development goals, are far from unified.
Some have questioned the relevance of BRICS and China’s commitment to its New Development Bank (NDB) in light of Xi’s own global Belt and Road development initiative and the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
Set up in 2015 as an alternative to the World Bank, the Shanghai-headquartered NDB was seen as the first major BRICS achievement after the group came together in 2009 to press for a bigger say in the post-World War Two financial order created by Western powers.
The bank aims to address a massive infrastructure funding gap in the member countries, which account for almost half the world’s population and about one-fifth of global economic output.


Turkey names US-convicted banker to head Istanbul stock exchange

Updated 17 sec ago

Turkey names US-convicted banker to head Istanbul stock exchange

  • Mehmet Hakan Atilla was found guilty by a New York court in January 2018 of plotting to help Tehran evade American sanctions on Iranian oil proceeds
ISTANBUL: Turkey has named a banker convicted of sanctions busting in the US as the new chief executive of the Istanbul stock exchange, the finance minister has said.
The appointment of Mehmet Hakan Atilla, the former deputy director general of Halkbank, comes almost a week after US federal prosecutors filed criminal charges against the Turkish state-run bank.
Halkbank is accused of participating in a multi-billion-dollar scheme to evade economic sanctions on Iran.
Atilla was found guilty by a New York court in January 2018 of plotting to help Tehran evade American sanctions on Iranian oil proceeds.
He was released from prison in July 2019.
“After returning to his family and country following his wrongful conviction, Hakan Atilla’s period of relaxation has come to an end,” Finance Minister Berat Albayrak — also President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s son-in-law — said on Monday.
“He will start work as the new Istanbul Stock Exchange managing director. I wish him and the stock exchange good luck,” Albayrak added.
“Mehmet Hakan Atilla was elected as CEO at the Borsa Istanbul board meeting dated October 21, 2019. Atilla will act as CEO and board member,” the stock exchange said in a statement.
The decision to give such an important role to Atilla appears to be intended as a defiant message to US authorities during a moment of acute tension between Ankara and Washington.
Relations between Turkey and the US have been particularly strained since Ankara launched a cross-border offensive this month against a US-backed Syrian Kurdish militia viewed by Turkish officials as “terrorists.”
But there have been multiple sources of tension between the NATO allies, including the US failure to extradite a Muslim preacher accused of ordering the failed coup in Turkey in 2016 and American military support for the Syrian Kurdish militia.
In response to the legal investigation, Halkbank accused American authorities of targeting Turkey because of the Turkish military operation launched on October 9.
Atilla replaces Murat Cetinkaya, who became a deputy governor of the central bank in August.
Cetinkaya is not to be confused with the former central bank governor of the same name.