In swipe at US, BRICS hit out at trade protectionism

Brasília (AFP) –


Five of the biggest emerging economies railed against protectionism on Thursday as they vowed to overcome "significant challenges" facing multilateralism, in a swipe at US tariffs and unilateral action.

In a joint declaration, BRICS countries -- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa -- said "trade tensions and policy uncertainty have taken a toll on confidence, trade, investment and growth" in the global economy.

"It is critical that all WTO members avoid unilateral and protectionist measures," they said.

"We reiterate the fundamental importance of a rules-based, transparent, non-discriminatory, open, free and inclusive international trade."

The United States is locked in a protracted trade war with BRICS titan China, while it also has sanctions on Venezuela, whose President Nicolas Maduro is backed by Beijing and Moscow.

The statement, issued on the second day of the annual BRICS gathering, made no mention of the economic and political crisis raging in Venezuela -- an issue that has divided the emerging markets group.