Thangai Veera Si. Annan
BRICS is an international political organisation of leading emerging economies, arising out of the inclusion of South Africa into the BRIC group in 2010. As of 2012, its five members are Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. With the possible exception of Russia, the BRICS members are all developing or newly industrialised countries, but they are distinguished by their large economies and significant influence on regional and global affairs. As of 2012, the five BRICS countries represent almost half of the world’s population, with a combined nominal GDP of US$13.6 trillion, and an estimated US$4 trillion in combined foreign reserves.
President of the People’s Republic of China Hu Jintao has claimed BRICS countries are defenders and promoters of developing countries and a force for world peace.
The four BRIC countries met in Yekaterinburg for their first official summit on 16 June 2009, with Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva,Dmitry Medvedev, Manmohan Singh, and Hu Jintao, the respective leaders of Brazil, Russia, India and China, all attending. The summit’s focus was on means of improving the global economic situation and reforming financial institutions, and discussed how the four countries could better co-operate in the future. There was further discussion of ways that developing countries, such as the BRIC members, could become more involved in global affairs.
In the aftermath of the Yekaterinburg summit, the BRIC nations announced the need for a new global reserve currency, which would have to be ‘diversified, stable and predictable’. Although the statement that was released did not directly criticise the perceived ‘dominance’ of the US dollar – something which Russia had attacked in the past – it did spark a fall in the value of the dollar against other major currencies.
Entry of South Africa
In 2010, South Africa began efforts to join the BRIC grouping, and the process for its formal admission began in August of that year. South Africa officially became a member nation on December 24, 2010, after being formally invited by the BRIC countries to join the group. The group was renamed BRICS – with the “S” standing for South Africa – to reflect the group’s expanded membership. In April 2011, South African President Jacob Zuma attended the 2011 BRICS summit in Sanya, China, as a full member. The BRICS Forum, an independent international organisation encouraging commercial, political and cultural cooperation between the BRICS nations, was formed in 2011.
The following table shows the places where four BRICS Summit were conducted.
||June 16, 2009
||April 16, 2010
||Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva
||April 14, 2011
||March 29, 2012
The 2012 BRICS Summit in New Delhi, India
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Chinese President Hu Jintao and South African President Jacob Zuma attended the 4th BRICS Summit in New Delhi on 29.03.2012.
Declaration endorses Kofi Annan solution to Syria crisis
The Delhi Declaration of the fourth summit of BRICS was most explicit on Iran and Palestine, while broadly endorsing the Kofi Annan approach to resolving the year-long conflict in Syria.
The declaration cautioned against delaying a resolution of the Palestine issue under the pretext of Arab Spring, and said direct talks between Ramallah and Tel Aviv would dampen some of the disquiet in the Middle East and North Africa.
In another development, China and Russia, while not endorsing the candidature of the other three BRICS members — Brazil, India and South Africa — to join them as permanent members on the U.N. Security Council, “supported” their desire to play a greater role at the U.N.
A large part of the most exhaustive post-BRICS summit declaration issued so far was devoted to sustainability and developmental issues, and it approvingly noted the initiatives taken by the members to advance dialogue on climate change, poverty eradication and a cleaner energy mix.
An Action Plan, riding on the high implementation rate of previous work plans, has lined up a series of line-Ministry interactions so that some of the intentions expressed in the Declaration edge closer to implementation by the time of the next summit in Russia.
India, China resolve to improve communication
India and China have resolved to improve communication with each other and identified West Asia, Central Asia and Africa as areas where they would hold regular dialogue.
With Russia, India touched on most subjects but refrained from addressing issues relating to Kudankulam III and IV units, although most issues have been sorted out.
This emerged during bilateral meetings Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had with Chinese President Hu Jintao and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev which are a staple fare during multilateral conferences such as the BRICS summit that concluded on 29.03.2012.
At a 60-minute meeting with Mr. Hu, Dr. Singh agreed that there must be stronger communication between both countries so as to remove suspicions about each other’s intentions.
In Central Asia, China has been spectacularly successful in its sourcing of hydrocarbons and India is also actively scouting for opportunities.
In Africa too, both countries are looking for opportunities in the minerals and hydrocarbons sectors.
With the dominant western narrative pitching both countries against each other in these regions and this view being taken up by think tanks here, the opening of dialogue to add to the subjects of maritime cooperation and sharing of oceanographic research data agreed upon last month would help provide more realistic inputs to the decision-making apparatus of both nations.
Mr. Hu agreed that trade imbalance must be addressed and promised that China would facilitate more Indian exports to its market.
With Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia holding talks with National Development and Reform Commission Zhang Ping earlier in the day, both leaders were suitably briefed about each other’s economic priorities. Dr. Singh invited Chinese investments in manufacturing and infrastructure sectors, two areas where Beijing is strong but has felt stymied by New Delhi’s rules and procedures.
On the border issue, they agreed that the current mechanism of Special Representative-level talks should continue and meantime, both sides must ensure peace and tranquillity on the border.
With Mr. Medvedev, who like Mr. Hu is on his last visit to India as President, the talks lasted for 45 minutes and began with both appreciating the direction BRICS was taking. In fact the prospects of the five-country organisations dominated the interaction but the two leaders touched on trade, and civil nuclear cooperation. Defence cooperation came at the fag end of the talks.
The Russian President raised the issue of cancellation of 2G telecom licences by the Supreme Court that has also affected Sistema, a company close to the Kremlin and in which Moscow has invested a substantial amount.
Mr. Medvedev and Dr. Singh felt satisfied over the sorting of problems relating to the first two units of Kudankulam civil nuclear plant but did not touch on the next two units due to the Prime Minister’s continuing apprehension over the protests.
China mourns death but blames it on Dalai Lama
Despite Tibetan refugees trying to disrupt the visit of the Chinese President at every possible opportunity, senior officials from Beijing mourned the death of a protester after he immolated himself. At the same time, they regretted that Dalai Lama and his “so-called pro-independence” elements were trying to encourage fanatical behaviour by “glorifying this kind of extreme behaviour.”
At a press conference here, senior Chinese Ministry official Luo Zhaohui said such protests were not in keeping with the atmospherics of a multilateral summit.
- While making a strong statement on Iran and adopting a middle-of-the-road resolution on Syria, the fourth summit of BRICS largely eschewed political content and focussed on economic and development issues which included beginning the process for setting up a bank and inking two pacts to ease trade among each other.
- The Delhi Declaration issued at the end of the one-day summit 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 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 G-20 meeting in Mexico as well.
- The leaders of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) who held a closed door meeting that overran the allotted time, 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. Sources said the leaders 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 favour 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 & 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 Organisation.
- The five-nation grouping’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 programme 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.
Supply-side constraints may hit BRICS: PM, India
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh identified supply-side factors such as energy, food, water and capital that could upset the growth story of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) in the medium term. “Our responses to these challenges may be different but there is much common interest that binds us all together.” Though the positive BRICS narrative was based on a model of catch-up growth, the supply side factors could impede the entire story, he cautioned, inaugurating the fourth BRICS Summit here.
The Prime Minister advocated reforms in most global institutions and active sharing of expertise among the five nations to overcome the adverse effects of supply side factors in not just the developing world but Europe as well.
Intra-BRICS complementarities could be leveraged by promoting greater business-to-business interaction, liberal business visas, removing barriers to trade and investment flows and avoiding protectionist measures. “Inevitably, we will handle the problem differently, but it may be useful for us to share experiences in this area,” Dr. Singh said.
But continued prosperity of BRICS was also linked to the geopolitical environment. “In our restricted session, we discussed the ongoing turmoil in West Asia and agreed to work together for a peaceful resolution of the crisis. We must avoid political disruptions that create volatilities in global energy markets and affect trade flows,” he concluded.
China welcomes India’s commitment on two sources of friction
China said it welcomed commitments made by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during talks on 29.03.2012 that India would neither participate in any “containment strategy” aimed at China nor allow anti-China activities by exiled Tibetans.
In a reflection of what Beijing views as among the two more delicate issues facing the bilateral relationship with New Delhi – India’s ties with the U.S. and Tibet – the Chinese Foreign Ministry highlighted Dr. Singh’s comments as suggesting an increase in political trust between the neighbours.
The Indian Prime Minister conveyed that “India has no intention and will not participate in any strategy aimed at containing China” in the meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao in New Delhi on the sidelines of the BRICS (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa) Summit, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said at a briefing.
BRICS development bank
Chinese officials and the media welcomed agreements reached at the BRICS summit on financial cooperation.
The deal between banks of five countries to formalise cooperation in local currency lending would “further facilitate trade and investment”, Chen Yuan, chairman of the China Development Bank, was quoted as saying by the State-run Xinhua news agency.
“Using our own currencies to issue loans and settle payments can minimise exposure to exchange rate fluctuations, reduce our reliance on third-party currencies, and facilitate trade and investment,” he said, adding that member banks had “actively implemented” the framework agreement on financial cooperation agreed to at the previous summit in Sanya.
The five countries also agreed to ask their finance ministers to conduct feasibility studies into the setting up of a BRICS development bank and report back by the next summit. The agreement fell short of expectations that the Delhi Summit would yield a more concrete outcome on long-running discussion on the bank.
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