Action plan to enable five nations to coordinate on political, economic issues

The world's five major emerging economies — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) — on Thursday drew up an action plan to make the voice of developing countries more effective on the world stage. This followed a concurrence of views on almost all issues of international importance, including political, economic, climate change, terrorism and reforms of the United Nations and international financial institutions.

The plan schedules a string of high-level meetings on almost all issues — security, political and economic — to enable the five countries better coordinate their positions. They would initiate the plan with a meeting of National Security Advisers later this year in China.

Besides strongly pushing for a more equitable world economic order, the five nations frowned on the use of force by the West in Libya and supported the return of peace and stability in West Asia-North Africa according to the “legitimate aspirations of their peoples.”

India, Brazil and South Africa drew comfort from Russia and China “endorsing” their candidature for the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in the Sanya Declaration though Indian officials later sounded a cautionary footnote. “Language-wise this is an advancement but this only indicates the trend. Maybe China and Russia feel that the three [IBSA] have more wind behind their sails now,” observed a senior official. In return, the four countries called for early inclusion of Russia in the World Trade Organisation.

Earlier, speaking at the plenary session, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other leaders indicated the other areas besides economic and political where the BRICS countries should work together. With the Fukushima radioactivity leakage still on, Dr. Singh called for cooperation in nuclear safety besides disaster relief and management.

He explained why the BRICS economies occupied a strategic economic position — besides accounting for a significant of world's land mass and population, they unitedly stood for a rule-based world order (primacy for the U.N.) and respected each other's political systems (abstaining from pushing for alterations in a country's political structure).

At the same time, Dr. Singh clarified that this burgeoning cooperation, mainly on economic issues, was neither directed against nor at the expense of anyone. Indeed, as senior officials were to later explain, the G-20 was the primary forum for deciding on macro economic issues.

The principal logic for the BRICS grouping was connected to the desire among all the five countries to effect lasting and visible socio-economic changes. Cooperation among them would help build an external environment that would help them complement the task of nation building.

“To that extent I would say the best is yet to come,” Dr. Singh said.

While the BRICS is still a work-in-progress with intentions still at the declaratory stage, the grouping decided to tackle the problem of foreign exchange volatility by endorsing primacy for local currency in trading with each other.

At the restricted session, the five leaders decided to ask their central banks to work out the modalities that would be subject to respective national laws.

Chinese President Hu Jintao, who opened the deliberations, set the tone by urging a reform in global economic governance and increasing the say and representation of emerging economies in international financial institutions.

With much media speculation on a change in the basket of currencies forming the Special Drawing Rights, the possibility of Yuan as a world currency and the decision to trade in local currencies, officials were quick to point out that there was “no desire” to diminish the importance of the dollar. It was also decided that India would host the next BRICS summit next year.