On June 17, 2023, the XXVI St. Petersburg International Economic Forum hosted the BRICS WBA panel discussion "BRICS: on the Verge of Change" dedicated to the prospects for expanding of the BRICS, strengthening of international cooperation among the states, as well as increasing role of BRICS women leaders in the formation and implementation of development agenda.
The event was attended by the representatives of the BRICS WBA national chapters, business and government circles of the BRICS countries. The session was moderated by Lebogang Zulu, the Rotating Chairperson of BRICS WBA, and Anna Nesterova, Chairperson of the Russia Chapter of BRICS WBA.
During the session, the speakers discussed the readiness of the bloc to expansion, the growth of business cooperation and the emergence of new opportunities for women entrepreneurs in the BRICS countries, as well as such important issues as the use of new settlement mechanisms and the development of food security within the BRICS.
All panelists agreed that the expansion of the BRICS would have an exceptionally positive effect and would make a significant contribution to the development of international business cooperation.
Francesca Giobbi, owner of the Ee Project Unipessoal Lda, said that a survey of about 8,000 women entrepreneurs in 62 countries showed that people could find ways to address the global challenges by means of communication and interaction.
Sangita Reddy, Co-Managing Director of Apollo Hospitals and Chairperson of BRICS WBA India Chapter emphasized that the expansion of the BRICS would be a big step for state leaders towards a multicultural and multipolar world, and countries wishing to join BRICS were not G7 rivals.
Zhang Yi, Deputy Secretary General of China Chamber of International Commerce (CCOIC), stated that BRICS expansion would create more opportunities for business cooperation. Moreover, Zhang Yi noted that as part of strengthening cooperation, on June, 3-12, this year, BRICS WBA China Chapter had organized a visit for the winners of the BRICS Women's Innovation Contest, initiated by President Xi Jinping in 2020.
Elena Chashchina, Managing Partner and Co-owner of EPOTOS Group of Companies and a member of BRICS WBA Russia Chapter, drew attention to the fact that a number of women-entrepreneurs had increased in traditionally considered "men's business". Besides, Elena Chashchina noted that in-person interaction, additional financial mechanisms, mutual assistance and exchange of experience, implementation of common rules and standards would contribute to the expansion of cooperation in the BRICS and BRICS+.
Lyudmila Shcherbakova, Co-founder and Chaiperson of the Board of Directors of Velpharm and a member of BRICS WBA Russia Chapter, said that tangible results could be only achieved by joint efforts. She proposed cooperating in medicine production and establishing common R&D centers.
Galina Volkova, CEO of "ORTOMODA" and a member of BRICS WBA Russia Chapter, stated that business development led to an increase in turnover and prosperity, and the expansion of the BRICS would contribute to it. In addition, she invited all BRICS WBA National Chapters to take part in the BRICS Green Fashion and Universal Design Forum, considered to be held during the Russian chairship in the BRICS in 2024.
Tatyana Mineeva, Commissioner for Entrepreneurs' Rights Protection in Moscow, said that cross-border settlements and disruption of supply chains were on the business agenda. Tatyana proposed establishing an adhoc working group between BRICS WBA and Ecosystem experts, with the main focus on government support measures for business.
The topic of de-dollarization and new settlement mechanisms was also brought to the BRICS WBA panel session. Anna Nesterova noted that the dollar, as a reserve currency, had its advantages and disadvantages: "However, today the dollar is used as a geopolitical weapon, and any country can be thrown out of its zone." Anna emphasized that it was necessary to create really working duplicating mechanisms by expanding the use of national currencies in settlements, developing digital currencies and empowering the BRICS Development Bank with a clearing function to ensure settlements.
Moreover, the topical issue of food security was raised during the discussion. Kristina Romanovskaya, General Director of Lazarevskoye Breeding Farm, noted that all BRICS countries were agricultural and had a great potential for common partnership in that area.
Following the session, Lebogang Zulu called on all women and governments in the BRICS countries to join efforts and continue the economic revolution together, quoting Nelson Mandela "Everything seems impossible, until it is done."
At the end of the discussion, Anna Nesterova proposed building together the world of the majority, with its own global economic and technological infrastructure, self-sufficient and equal for all.
The link to the record of the panel session: https://forumspb.com/programme/business-programme/104518/