BRICS [Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa] – A snapshot
The BRIC [Brazil, Russia, India and China] idea was first conceived in 2001 by Goldman Sachs as part of an economic modeling exercise to forecast global economic trends over the next half century. It was institutionalized with the first meeting of BRIC Foreign Ministers on the margins of UNGA in New York in September 2006; a standalone meeting of Foreign Ministers took place in Yekaterinburg, Russia in May 2008. An informal Summit of BRIC Leaders was held in Toyako, Japan in July 2008, on the sidelines of G8-Outreach Summit. The first standalone Summit took place in Yekaterinburg, Russia in June 2009 and the 2nd Summit was held in Brasilia in April 2010. The 3rd Summit was held in Sanya on 14 April 2011. The 4th Summit will be hosted by India in 2012.
Expansion of BRIC into BRICS
2. BRIC Foreign Ministers at their meeting in New York on 21st September 2010 agreed that South Africa may be invited to join BRIC. Accordingly, China, as the host of 3rd BRICS Summit [in fact the 1st BRICS Summit as South Africa joined BRIC at this Summit], invited South African President to attend the 3rd Summit in Sanya with the concurrence of other BRIC leaders.
Other important Meetings
3. Besides BRICS Summits and regular meetings of Foreign Ministers, Finance/Economic Ministers have also been meeting regularly. A meeting of Agriculture Ministers (Moscow on 26 March 2010), a meeting of Trade Ministers (Sanya on 13 April 2011 before the 3rd Summit) and 3 meetings of BRIC National Security Advisers have also taken place. Other areas of engagement include supreme courts, competition authorities, development banks, cooperative societies, etc. Two BRICS Business Forum meetings have taken place; the last in Sanya on the sidelines of the 3rd Summit in April 2011. Track-II BRICS meetings have also been organized; China hosted the last meeting in Beijing in March 2011. Mayors of BRICS cities have been meeting regularly. Mumbai Municipal Commissioner has attended these meetings.
Key Joint Statements/documents
4. BRIC(S) Summits have issued Joint Statements/Declaration. The first Summit also adopted a Joint Statement on Global Food Security. Joint Communiques/Statements were also issued after standalone meeting of BRIC Foreign Ministers and meetings of BRIC Finance Ministers and BRIC Agriculture Ministers. A Memorandum of Cooperation was signed among BRIC Development Banks (EXIM Bank from India) on the sidelines of the 2nd Summit. A Framework Agreement on 'Financial Cooperation within the BRICS Interbank Cooperation Mechanism' was signed on 14 April in Sanya; it inter alia envisages extending LoCs in local currencies. An MoU was also signed at the Business Forum in Sanya establishing permanent business contact points; FICCI signed from India. A BRIC Statistical publication was released in Brasilia at the 2nd Summit and its revised edition including South Africa was released at the Sanya Summit.
Issues on BRICS Agenda
5. Since its inception in 2006, the agenda of BRICS meetings has considerably widened to encompass global issues such as international terrorism, WMDs, climate change, food and energy security, international economic and financial situation etc. BRIC countries share similar positions on many issues including on the reforms of the Bretton Woods Institutions, trade protectionism and the Doha Development Round, international terrorism, achievement of MDG goals, support for multi-polar, equitable and democratic world order, etc. However, there are areas of differences particularly on UNSC reform, climate change, international monetary system etc.
BRICS Joint Study and other projects/proposals
6. At PM's suggestion at the first BRIC Summit in Yekaterinburg, Russia in June 2009, DEA, Ministry of Finance is coordinating a joint study on the state of world economy during the next two years and the role of BRICS countries. A workshop is likely to be held in Delhi in August 2011 to finalize the Study. Russia has also proposed cooperation in research in genetically modified crops, clean fuels (bio-fuels, bio-gas etc), modernization of helicopters including establishment of their service centres, security systems and counterterrorism systems etc. While these proposals are viewed with an open mind, their feasibility and detailed modalities of their implementation need to be thought through.
7. A Plan of Action was endorsed at the Sanya Summit to strengthen cooperation among BRICS countries in areas of security, finance, business links, agriculture, health, culture, sports, science and technology and green economy. China has hosted a meeting of BRICS Health Ministers on 11 July 2011 and a meeting of Agriculture Ministers would be hosted later in 2011. Other meetings which are planned are those of National Security Advisers, Agricultural experts, National Statistical Institutions, Competition Conference, etc. Ministers of Finance and Central Bank Governors would meet on the sidelines of other multilateral meetings and External Affairs Ministers would meet on the sidelines of UNGA.
*Ministry of External Affairs