The Hindu, February 21, 2013

From policy discussions to delivering tangible benefits, BRICS nations plan on a wider cooperation

Drawing from the Sanya Declaration of the BRICS Leaders Summit held in China in 2011, five reputed policy research organisations have come together to form the Track 2 initiative called BRICS Trade and Economic Research Network (TERN) which will work on a range of issues on South-South cooperation.

The five founding members Fundacao Getulio Vargas, Brazil, Eco-Accord, Russia, CUTS International, India, Shanghai WTO Affairs Consultation Centre, China and South African Institute of International Affairs are of the view that BRICS cooperation should move from policy discussions to delivering tangible benefits for the people of these five countries, in areas of sharing technology, increase in bilateral investment and trade etc. This development comes in the run up to the BRICS Leaders Summit which will be held in Durban, South Africa in March 2013.

Representing the civil society among the various stakeholders, Pradeep S. Mehta, secretary general, CUTS International said BRICS countries should answer critical questions like, “Are we, the BRICS group of countries, becoming relatively rich nations with many poor people, or are we poor countries with some rich people?’’

Mr. Mehta added: “Our common future lies on us and we have to act, not just talk.”

At a recent roundtable in the run up to the Durban summit, Carlos Sergio Sobral Duarte, Ambassador of Brazil highlighted several issues stating BRICS as a coalition has evolved on economic and financial fundamentals and now it is also acquiring a political identity. He also highlighted the commonalities among BRICS economic strengths (land, population, regional importance), challenges in terms of social and economic inclusion and desire to make the international order more representative. Deng Xijun, Deputy Chief of Mission and Minister Counsellor, Embassy of China was of the view that BRICS countries and other emerging economies have become an important force in the new world order, their significance cannot be denied.

He said currently BRICS countries are cooperating in thirty areas, and coordinating positions on important regional and international issues. This is also due to the common aspirations of these countries for development and poverty reduction.

Axel Harneit-Sievers, Country Director, India, Heinrich Boell Foundation, raised the need for institutional mechanisms in the on-going cooperation. Pranav Kumar, Director and Head, International Policy and Trade raised the point about BRICS and its engagement with IBSA. The roundtable also identified the need to have a systematic and continuous flow of information from the BRICS coalition through website/portal which can be managed by a Track 2 network.

The participants agreed that the expectation from the BRICS coalition is quite high and the institutional mechanisms should help in delivering measurable outcomes for these countries in areas of trade, investment, climate change and poverty reduction among others.

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