“The grouping has shown sceptics how the three states can pool their resources and genius”

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is the only leader to have attended all five IBSA summits, on Tuesday said the grouping had defied sceptics and shown how the three could pool their resources and genius to help each other and others. This is the first summit for Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and the second for South African President Jacob Zuma.

As the senior-most statesman among the three, Dr. Singh in his opening remarks at the Fifth IBSA summit provided a detailed elucidation on why IBSA must remain restricted to the three countries. His rationale for retaining the three-country format comes against the backdrop of countries such as Turkey indicating their desire to join the grouping and comments by experts that IBSA had been buried under a pile of BRICS consisting of the three IBSA members plus Russia and China.

Describing IBSA as “unique,” its initiatives as “novel” and Tuesday's summit “special,” the Prime Minister said it drew its strength and global influence from their common political model of being major developing democracies geographically located over three continents.

Collaborating and speaking in almost one voice at over half a dozen global fora, the Prime Minister said the history of cooperation was reflected at the United Nations Security Council (where all three are concurrently non-permanent members) where the three have acted in concert in dealing with complex regional and international political and security issues, including recently in West Asia. “This suggests that IBSA can play a role in promoting the cause of international peace and security.”

Dr. Singh wanted IBSA to build on this cooperation and cited the visit of an IBSA delegation to Damascus in August this year and its interaction with the Syrian leadership, which demonstrated the political role IBSA can usefully play.

Dr. Singh reposed faith in the G-20 and suggested the three leaders should meet on the sidelines of the next summit to ensure that the priorities of the developing economies are adequately reflected. He wanted Europe and other advanced economies, “traditional engines of the global economy,” to calm the capital and financial markets and prevent the global economy from slipping into a double dip recession.

Besides remaining active on the global stage, IBSA should consider new projects in agriculture and agro-processing, environment and energy, including new energy resources. The IBSA Trust Fund projects could also focus on education and skill development, which is a key requirement of almost all developing countries, he suggested.

With the early conclusion of India-SACU-Mercosur Trilateral Trade Arrangement, he hoped Africa could emerge as a bridge linking South Asia and Latin America.

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