Brics: Building cooperation for better future

| | in Oped

Given the robust growth and capacity of Brics to shape the global economy and south-south cooperation, this year’s Xiamen summit has come with ‘positives outcomes' towards its golden decade. Endeavours of member countries in diverse areas will drive this transformation

Changing contours of the global economy, geo-politics and cooperation among the developing states provided a timely opportunity for the Brics summit 2017 to reflect on the ‘collective will’ and efforts in making this multi-lateral organisation a significant economic and political bloc. Brics, representing almost 44 per cent of the world population; and 23 per cent of the global economy, is one of the leading ‘multi-lateral organisation’ in terms of economic cooperation and collective identity within the larger framework of ‘south-south cooperation’.

The ninth summit of Brics (2017) countries in Xiamen, China, has drawn much anticipated interest, given the context of limitations of global economic recovery, economic protectionism, shifting geo-politics, rising neo nationalism, emerging bilateralism and rising centrality of Asia pacific. Moreover, the sense of ‘collective play’ also faced questions on different levels of economic growth, relative comparative advantage, monetary potential and leadership commitments within Brics itself.

In consonance with theme of the summit, ‘Brics: Stronger Partnership for a Brighter Future’, the joint statement envisioned the path for greater cooperation and engagement among partners. In the last one year, Brics cooperation has widened from terrorism to issues like corruption, North Korean crisis and protectionism.

First, ever since its inception, Brics has seen a gradual rise in its role and importance as a multi-lateral organisation in global politics and the economy. This year’s ninth Brics summit invoked greater trust and vision among the member countries.

Moreover, the idea also has seen efforts to engage with other multi-lateral initiative that was visible in last Brics summit at Goa 2016, when India invited Bimstec states like Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri-Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal, to participate in its deliberations. The participation of Egypt, Kenya, Tajikistan, Mexico and Thailand in the Xiamen summit as ‘guest countries’ allows Brics develop greater synergy and dynamism towards south-south cooperation. Chinese President Xi Jinping called on the Brics countries to make the international order ‘more just and equitable’.

Second, in terms of ‘intra Brics cooperation’, the nature of trade and investment has seen upswing in the last decade. In 1990, Brics countries accounted for only three per cent of the global trade but in 2014, this increased up to 15 per cent of global exports and 14 per cent of global imports of commodities. Bilateral trade volume between China and India also rose by 21.5 per cent in first six months this year. China and Brazil launched a joint investment promotion fund to increase productive capacity in May. In terms of total trade, Brics has almost doubled from $2.8 trillion in 2006 to $5.7 trillion in 2015. In Xiamen, Beijing announced the contribution of four million dollar to fund the New Development Bank’s business operations.

The huge potential amongst Brics states remains in areas like promoting e-commerce, digital ports management, trade in services, intellectual property rights reform, knowledge sharing and cultural capital, investment facilitation and opposing trade protectionism. Prime Minister Narendra Modi pitched for India’s changing economic landscape under the Goods and Services Tax reform towards new and uniform tax regime. He identified wider cooperation in areas like developing Brics rating agency, banking and finance, clean energy, youth and community building, urbanisation and disaster management, technology and innovation, digital economy and capacity building in areas like skill development, health, infrastructure, manufacturing and connectivity.

As we look up to Brics in a ‘golden decade’, our endeavours in diverse areas of technology, tradition, culture, agriculture, environment, energy, sports, and ICT will drive this transformation.

Third, during its journey, Brics has evolved a certain set of institutional frameworks and mechanisms towards effective integration. The formation of Brics Contingent Reserve Mechanism in 2015 was a key development in providing liquidity and precautionary instruments for Brics countries. New Development Bank was established with an initial fund of $100 billion, and had recently approved sustainable development projects up to $1.4 billion as in China, India and Russia. It is evolving as a robust mechanism to finance projects in pipeline based on sustainable development model. Moreover, the Cross Border Inter Bank Payment System for Brics is also a welcome idea in the making. In the Xiamen summit, China also announced 500 million RNB for Brics economic and technology and cooperation plan.

In addition, different levels of ‘high level dialogues’ amongst Brics countries make a forum well institutionalised. The summit underlined efforts to strengthen trust and solidarity; deepening pragmatic economic cooperation; improving global governance; promoting civic exchange and institutional mechanism within Brics.

The joint statement issued has called for increased multi-lateral cooperation on relevant issues like terrorism, peace and security, clean energy, Internet quality and governance and peaceful space cooperation. Noting Indian concern on terrorism, the statement identified Pakistan-based terror outfits and called for collective action against terrorism, respect for international law, condemnation for unilateral military intervention and stability in Korean peninsula. On India-China relations, both countries strived to look forward based on healthy ties during the summit. Given the robust growth and capacity of Brics to shape the global economy and south-south cooperation, the Xiamen summit has come with ‘positives outcomes’ towards its Golden decade.

(The writer is a PhD candidate at the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University; and Fellow, South Asia Democratic Forum, Brussels, Belgium)

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