BRICS brick by brick

A joint approach on issues of international concern and strengthening bilateral relations were the big takeaways

By   |   Published: 28th Oct 2016   6:46 pm Updated: 28th Oct 2016   7:12 pm
Brics
(L-R) South African President Jacob Zuma, Chinese President Xi Jingping, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Brazilian President Michel Temer pose during the BRICS summit in Goa on October 15, 2016. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi hosted leaders of the BRICS emerging powers at a summit seeking to strengthen trade ties and help overcome the bloc's economic woes. Photo: AFP

The Goa Action Plan at the 8th Brics Summit, from October 15-16, affirmed commitment to strengthening partnerships for common development. Semantics played an interesting role as the theme of the summit, participated by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (Brics), was Building Responsive, Inclusive and Collective Solutions (also Brics).

FIVE TOGETHER

The Summit agreed to operationalise the New Development Bank (NDB) and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement for a stronger international financial architecture. It saw the approval of the first set of loans by the NDB for renewable energy projects.

An Outreach Summit with BIMSTEC member countries (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) comprising Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand got the go ahead.

The five nations reiterated their commitment to principles of Charters of the United Nations and underlined the importance of further strengthening coordination for sustainable peace in the wake of new threats confronting international community.

Deep concern was expressed over the crisis in Middle East, North Africa and Israel-Palestine, with a call for their resolution based on UNSC (United Nations Security Council) framework, Madrid Principles (refer to proposed peace settlements for the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in Azerbaijan) and Arab Peace Initiative.

The summit also appealed to developed countries to honour their vow to achieve 0.7 per cent of gross national income commitment for Official Development Assistance to developing nations for the implementation of sustainable development goals.

It saw commitment to globally fair tax system welcoming the implementation of Base Erosion and Profit Shifting project (BEPS), which encourages developing economies to enhance their tax capacity was reiterated. Aggressive tax practices that can hurt equitable development and economic growth were discouraged.

The members struck an agreement on promoting micro, small and medium enterprises, since they provide employment opportunities, comparatively at lower capital cost and enable self-employment openings in rural and underdeveloped areas.

It condemned terror attacks, including Islamic State atrocities, and emphasised on multilateral negotiations to check chemical and biological terrorism while stressing that all counter-terrorism measures must uphold international law and honour human rights.

The summit also recognised the significance of nuclear energy for some Brics nations to meet the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement commitments and the international initiative for a political obligation on the ‘no first placement’ of weapons in outer space.

The nations also called for combating money-laundering and financing of terrorism and proliferation of arms, tackling of communicable diseases such as TB & HIV, while connecting the world community through an open, non-fragmented and secure internet across countries.

TWO TOGETHER

India-Russia

  • Sign 16 agreements in defence, power, energy, shipbuilding, and space
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin lay foundation for Units 3 & 4 of Kudankulam nuclear plant through video conferencing
  • In a landmark deal, a part of the Essar oil business, including that of Vadinar Port in Gujarat, was sold to Russian energy major Rosneft for $13-billion. This is the largest single tranche of inbound foreign direct investment, according to Essar. Rosneft and the Trafigura-UCP Consortium to buy 49% equity stake each in Essar Oil and Vadinar Port
  • Major deal between the two countries for a missile defence system
  • A $2-billion accord signed for lease of second nuclear submarine. The lease is to transfer multipurpose Project 971 nuclear submarine to India from the Russian navy.
  • Development of single integrated transport logistics system; concept of smart city; intellectual monitoring system in Andhra Pradesh
  • Setting up of investment fund between National Investment and Infrastructure Fund and Russian Direct Investment Fund
  • MoU between Indian and Russian railway for speeding of trains between Hyderabad and Nagpur
  • Shareholder agreement for establishment of a joint venture for manufacture of Ka-226T helicopters (small, twin-engined Russian utility helicopter).

India-China

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping laid stress on taking forward dialogue on security and counter-terrorism. Hinting at IS, Jinping said violent extremism is a big threat
  • China willing to work with India to maintain its hard-won sound relations and further cooperation. The President adds the nations should continue high-level exchanges
  • Implementation of large projects of infrastructure construction and production capacity
  • Chinese companies to step up investment in India
  • The two countries vow to respect each other on issues of major concerns, handle differences in a constructive way and increase people-to-people exchanges
  • Culturally too, the countries share a close bond, Jinping remarked. Rabindranath Tagore is China’s favourite poet. At the Hangzhou G20 Summit, he even recited a poem on beauty of West Lake written by Tagore, nearly a century ago
  • China welcomes India’s proposal to combine the Belt and Road Initiative with the Spice and Monsoon Roads projects of India to expand economic and trade ties with Indian Ocean nations and Africa
  • On ‘Act East’ policy of India, China sends positive signals for enhancing inter-connectivity with Asean (Association of South East Asian Nations) and South Asian nations to bring together the dynamics of the whole Asian continent
  • China has called on India to jointly develop the Himalayan region by building a tripartite economic corridor with Nepal and build a Bangladeshi-India-Myanmar-China economic corridor as well
  • Modi reminded Jinping on India’s wish to join Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). Jinping responded with the suggestion of a second round of talks

India-Brazil

  • Both countries finalise the text of bilateral investment agreement
  • India seeks greater market access and investment opportunities for Indian products
  • Modi says India can be a valuable partner giving priority to boosting domestic economy in Brazil

BRICS BASICS 

Brics is an association of five emerging economies – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The five together accounts for 30 per cent of the world gross domestic product and contribute 17 percent to the world trade.

The acronym was first used by Goldman Sachs in their Global Economics Paper in 2001. The paper, ‘The World Needs Better Economic BRICs’ stated that these five economies individually and collectively can occupy a greater economic space and be among the world’s largest economies in 50 years.

Bric started after leaders of Russia, India and China met in St Petersburg during the G8 Outreach Summit in 2006.  The first Bric summit was held in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on June 16, 2009. South Africa joined the group in September 2010.

The initial focus was on economic issues of mutual interest and over the years, it expanded to include topical global issues. The cooperation has two pillars – consultation on issues of mutual interest through meetings of leaders and practical cooperation in a number of areas.

BRICS BANK

During the 4th Brics Summit in 2012 held in Delhi, India proposed setting up of a new development bank. The leaders agreed to set up the bank at the 5th Summit held in Durban, South Africa, on March 27, 2013. The name of the bank was suggested by India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

On July 15, 2014, the first day of the 6th Brics Summit in Fortaleza, Brazil, members signed the agreements to set up the bank with a contribution of $100 billion.

India’s KV Kamath was appointed as President of the bank on May 11, 2015.  The key objective of the bank is to fund infrastructure projects in the developing countries for sustainable development.