Leaders of the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) nations attend a business forum at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg on Wednesday, July 25 2018. Picture: GCIS
Leaders of the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) nations attend a business forum at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg on Wednesday, July 25 2018. Picture: GCIS

The leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and SA — the five Brics nations — have agreed to a proposal by Russian President Vladimir Putin that co-operation be extended at people-to-people level to promote co-operation and make the community more inclusive.

In a closed session between the presidents‚ Putin proposed that Brics should not just be a meeting of leaders but include the citizens of the five nations. In an open session at the summit on Thursday‚ Chinese President Xi Jinping revealed that the five presidents had agreed to expand cultural‚ sporting and arts links.

President Cyril Ramaphosa‚ in his closing remarks at the heads of state session of the summit‚ said the proposal by Putin would be an "important aspect to co-operation", and that officials of the five nations had been instructed to develop the proposal‚ which could see sports people and artists competing against each other in special events.

As Donald Trump's tariff salvos threaten global trade wars, leaders from the BRICS bloc - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - are expected to band together in defence of the multilateralism the United States once championed at a summit of major emerging nations in Johannesburg. Subscribe to TimesLIVE here: https://www.youtube.com/user/TimesLive

The Brics community has, so far, focused on promoting economic ties between the world’s leading developing economies, but all five leaders stressed the importance of science‚ technology‚ skills development and digital innovation for stimulating growth and keeping pace with the fourth industrial revolution.

Ramaphosa said quantum leaps in technology and innovation presented enormous opportunities for growth‚ development and human progress.

"This surge in innovation has the potential to dramatically improve productivity and to place entire countries on a new trajectory of prosperity," he said. "Through our collective effort‚ by working together‚ I am certain that we will be able to confront the challenges and seize the opportunities that this new age of development presents."

Putin said the five nations needed to promote the safety and security of their citizens; this included a "safe and reliable internet environment"‚ and protection of personal data. He also said there should be closer co-operation on the digital economy.

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