Distinction in travel journalism
Is independent travel journalism important to you?
Click here to keep it independent

29 Mar, 2012

BRICS Leaders Meet in New Delhi, Push More Intra-BRICS Trade & Business


New Delhi, March 28, 2012, (Press Information Bureau) – India is hosting the Fourth Summit of the leaders of Brazil, China, India, Russia and South Africa (BRICS) in New Delhi 29 March 2012. On 28 March, the Trade Ministers of the BRICS nations met for the second time since their first meeting in Sanya, China on 13 April 2011 on the sidelines of the 3rd BRICS Summit.

India’s Union Minister of Commerce Industry and Textiles Mr Anand Sharma said, “There is a large untapped growth potential of intra-BRICS trade and investments which we are presently focusing on for exploitation. BRICS Development Banks are in the advance stages of concluding Agreements on Extending Credit Facility in Local Currencies, and Multilateral Letter of Credit Confirmation Facility Agreement to facilitate further consolidation of trade and investment ties. Such intra-BRICS initiatives will not only contribute to enhanced intra-BRICS trade and investments but would also facilitate our economic growth in difficult economic times.” (A copy of last Ministerial Declaration by the BRICS Trade Ministers in Sanya can be seen at http://bricsindia.in/trade.html)

A Contact Group on Economic and Trade Issues (CGETI) was established following BRICS Trade Ministers meeting in Sanya. The CGETI is entrusted with the task of proposing an institutional framework and concrete measures to expand economic cooperation both among BRICS countries and between BRICS countries and all developing countries, within a South-South perspective. The CGETI has met twice so far i.e. on 2 December 2011, in Beijing, China and on 6-7 March, 2012 in New Delhi.

The five Trade Ministers inaugurated the Business Forum  organized jointly by the three major India Chambers of Commerce and Industry ASSOCHAM, CII and FICCI). Over 500 business leaders from the five countries are expected to attend this forum.

As per UNCTAD data the share of BRICS economies in the Global Trade has been increasing over the years. In 2010 it stood at 15 per cent up from 13.7 per cent the year before. In 2010-11 India had total trade worth USD 7519 million with Brazil. During the same period trade with Russia was USD 5179 million, with China USD 63095 million and with South Africa USD 11,125 million.

The last BRICS Summit was held in Sanya, China in April 2011. The theme of the Third Summit was “Broad Vision and Shared Prosperity”. The Sanya Summit was the first after inclusion of South Africa in BRICS. A Framework Agreement on `Financial Cooperation within the BRICS Interbank Cooperation Mechanism` was signed on 14 April 2011 in Sanya; the agreement envisages extending Line of credits in local currencies. An MoU was also signed at the Business Forum in Sanya establishing permanent business contact points; FICCI signed from India. 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.

The Delhi Summit is to build on these measures and also identify new areas for intensive cooperation. The theme of the BRICS summit is Partnership for Stability, Security and Growth.

On March 28, after the Trade Ministers Summit, a communique was issued. The following is the full text:

Overview of Global Economic Developments and Impact on Trade and Investment

The BRICS Trade and Economic Ministers reviewed the global economic situation and noted with concern the continuing difficulty faced by many countries and underscored the need for greater policy coordination to ensure a stable and thriving global economy. In such a scenario, the Ministers emphasised the need to resist protectionist tendencies and to promote international trade as an engine of economic growth and development, while respecting the WTO consistent policy space available to developing countries to pursue their legitimate objectives of growth, development and stability. The Ministers noted that subsidies in agriculture by some developed countries continue to distort trade and undermine the food security and development prospects of developing countries particularly LDCs, and urge that such form of protectionism be shunned.

Current state of play of the Doha Round and the way forward

The Ministers of BRICS WTO members expressed deep concern at the current impasse in the Doha Development Round, and reiterated that they remain fully committed to an early conclusion of the negotiations based on the progress made in the Round since 2001. Towards this end, the Ministers expressed their willingness to explore outcomes in specific areas where progress is possible while preserving the centrality of development in the Doha mandate and within the overall framework of the single undertaking. It is of utmost importance that negotiations on any components of the Doha Round are consistent with the existing mandates. The Ministers did not support any plurilateral initiatives that go against the fundamental principles of transparency, inclusiveness and multilateralism. The Minister believed that such initiatives not only distract Members from striving for a collective outcome but also fail to address the development deficit inherited from previous negotiating rounds

The Ministers reiterated that they attach great importance to an open and rule-based multilateral trading system, and in this context, they underlined the central role of the WTO in safeguarding and strengthening the rules with specific reference to the concerns of developing countries and in particular LDCs.

The Ministers welcomed Russia’s determination to participate in a constructive and active manner in the DDA negotiations once full membership is attained. A balanced DDA outcome will strengthen and further develop the multilateral trading system.

Cooperation in multilateral fora

The Ministers agreed to coordinate their positions at the WTO and in other multilateral fora such as the forthcoming meeting of the G20 Trade Ministers.

BRICS Ministers look forward to UNCTAD XIII next month in Doha. They reaffirmed the important role of UNCTAD in the area of trade, development and interrelated issues and believe that its mandate should be maintained and strengthened. At a time when the global economy is in crisis, the Doha trade round is at an impasse and multilateralism is under challenge, it is vital for UNCTAD to strengthen its role of policy dialogue, consensus building and capacity building for developing countries.

The way forward on BRICS

The Ministers took note of the discussions in the Contact Group on Economic and Trade Issues (CGETI) on Russia’s proposal for setting up BRICS Projects Platforms/ technology pool for joint projects development.

The Ministers directed their officials to explore ways and means for enhancing and furthering intra-BRICS cooperation especially in the areas of customs cooperation, exchange of experiences in trade facilitation, investment promotion SME cooperation and trade data collection and harmonisation, e-commerce cooperation and intellectual property rights cooperation.

Ministers also agreed that officials should work together to ensure that BRICS members enhance their trade, including of higher value added manufactured products, to support industrialisation and employment in their countries.