Friday, March 30, 2012

4th BRICS Summit: Playing Crucial Role at World Level

The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) is a grouping of the world’s emerging economies, representing five continents. The BRICS countries together account for 40 per cent of global GDP ($18.49 trillion). Intra-BRICS trade is worth $212 billion, and is growing at 28 per cent a year. It has set itself a trade target of $500 billion by 2015.
The importance of BRICs in the world economy has increased manifold since the acronym was first coined approximately seven years ago. Few could have imagined then how the US economy would collapse and bring down with it much of the rest of the world. It is worth revisiting the original formulations on the significance of these four major countries that were made by representatives of a major US investment bank
Some member countries in the organization are among the fast emerging economies in the world. At the same time, the world has come to realize that to bring an end to the unipolar world and to maintain the power balance, the importance of Russia cannot be ignored. Countries such as China and Brazil not only want to maintain close relations with the United States, but with Russia as well.
However, the aim of the BRICS is to enhance cooperation among member countries and working together at the international forums. Clearly, it is an opportunity for India to improve and strengthen its relations with China and strive to get their disputes resolved.
The fourth BRICS Summit was held in New Delhi on March 28-29. The summit’s theme was “BRICS partnership for Global Stability, Security and Prosperity.” The participants included Presidents Hu Jintao of China, Dmitry Medvedev of Russia, Jacob Zuma of South Africa and Brazil’s Dilma Rouseff. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh hosted the summit, and also held a series of bilateral sessions with his guests, including China’s Hu Jintao.
The summit held against the backdrop of continued profound and complex changes in the international situation, uncertain prospects in world economic recovery and the steadily rising status and role of emerging markets and developing countries in international affairs. It was yet another important event in the ongoing BRICS cooperation. India has worked effectively in preparing for the summit. China tried to work with other BRICS members to push for positive outcomes. On the summit’s eve, the five nations resolved to resist protectionist tendencies worldwide.
The leaders of five emerging economic powerhouses affirmed not just their growing economic clout but also their impact on the global political order.
Delhi Declaration
At the end of the summit, BRICS leaders issued a Delhi Declaration. The Declaration hinted at backing an alternative candidate for the World Bank president's post which has always been appropriated by an American and exhorted the Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to quickly realign their priorities and approach to the needs of the developing world. This is an agenda the five countries intend pursuing at the coming G20 meeting in Mexico as well.
The leaders also weighed the consequences of setting up a “BRICS Bank” and opted for a more contemplative approach by asking their Finance Ministers to examine its feasibility and report back at the next summit in Russia. They agreed that the bank should in no way emerge as a competitor to the World Bank and the IMF but provide funds for projects that do not find favor with these institutions.
In line with their professed commitment to multilateralism in economic and political problem solving, the leaders agreed to invest more in the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) which played a major role in catering to the interests of developing countries in the run-up to the setting up of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Seeking to reinforce their growing economic heft with diplomatic clout, the BRICS grouping pitched for a bigger say in global governance institutions, including the United Nations and the IMF, and told the West that dialogue was the only way to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue and the Syria crisis.
The leaders of BRISC’s formulation on Iran came close to condemning the West's pressure tactics to make other countries obey their latest restrictions on trade ties, especially in the energy sphere. Saying that a conflict would have disastrous consequences, it wanted the two antagonists to resolve suspicions over Iran's nuclear program through talks on multilateral fora.
On Afghanistan, BRICS exhorted the international community to stay the course on the development front for 10 years after the West withdraws most of its combat troops by 2014-end and, on Russia's insistence, made a mention of checking narcotic trafficking.
In a fresh assertion, BRICS asked the West to implement the 2010 governance and quota reform before the 2012 IMF/World Bank annual meeting, as well as the comprehensive review of the quota formula to better reflect economic weights. They asked for enhancing the voice and representation of emerging market and developing countries by January 2013, followed by the completion of the next general quota review by January 2014.
In a signature step, the BRICS decided to create their first institution in the form of a BRICS-led South South Development Bank that will mobilise "resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging economies and developing countries." The leaders directed their finance ministers "to examine the feasibility and viability of such an initiative, set up a joint working group for further study, and report back by the next summit."
The development banks of the five countries signed two pacts, including a master agreement on extending credit facility in local currency and BRICS multilateral letter of credit confirmation facility agreement, which could help scale up bilateral trade from $230 billion to $500 billion.
India’s Major Points
Addressing the summit, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also said that the grouping has agreed to examine in "greater detail" a proposal to set up a South-South Development bank, funded and managed by BRICS and other developing countries.
Singh also urged member countries to speak in one voice on key issues such as the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) reforms. He suggested that BRICS countries should speak in one voice on issues such as reforms of the international body.
On UNSC reforms, Singh suggested that BRICS countries should speak in one voice on issues such as reforms of the international body.
He also said in their restricted session, the grouping also discussed the ongoing turmoil in West Asia and agreed to work together for a peaceful resolution of the crisis.
Touching upon the issue of terrorism, Singh said the countries should enhance cooperation against terrorism and other developing threats such as piracy, particularly emanating from Somalia.
UN Millennium Development Goals
BRICS nations are the defender and promoter of the interests of developing countries. In their cooperation, BRICS countries have committed to promoting South-South cooperation and North-South dialogue, endeavored to implement the UN Millennium Development Goals, worked for early realization of the goals set out in the mandate for the Doha development round negotiations, strived to secure a greater say for developing countries in global economic governance and fought all forms of protectionism.
Cooperation among BRICS countries is made necessary by the ongoing economic globalization and democratization in international relations. It is consistent with the trend of the times characterized by peace, development and cooperation, and fully conducive to building a harmonious world of durable peace and common prosperity.
Role of China
An impression is sought to be created that with its massive monetary reserves and political clout, China may exert undue influence in this bank. This is unlikely. Such a bank will not require too much paid-up capital (relative to the average size of respective sovereign reserves) if intelligent financial engineering can help sequester foreign reserves. This would mean that the smallest BRICS economy, South Africa, could easily commit an amount similar to that of China in the capital structure. Such doubts could be further allayed with the institution of a rotating Presidency of, say, a two-year term that could initially be restricted to the BRICS countries alone.
India-India Strategic Ties
The China-India strategic and cooperative partnership has made all-round progress in recent years. A sustained, sound and steady growth of relations between China and India, the two large developing countries sharing borders with each other, will serve not only the well-being of the two peoples but also peace, stability and prosperity in Asia and the world as a whole.
The Delhi Summit will be remembered forever for one major achievement, at least. Its expected decision to set up a BRICS bank on the lines of the World Bank may change the course of economic activity in the member-countries. The setting up of this new financial institution by the bloc that has brought together half of the world’s population may speed up infrastructure development programs in the BRICS countries and serve as a second line of financial defense in times of economic crisis as is being faced by Europe today.

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