South Africa joins grouping of major emerging economies

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrived at this coastal resort town in China for the first-ever summit of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) nations.

Dr. Singh and Presidents of the other four major emerging economies will discuss “fresh uncertainties” in West Asian and North African countries during the summit.

While two summits of the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) were held in Russia and Brazil, this summit has South Africa as the new entrant.

India will host the next summit.

Apart from coordinating their positions on economic and climate change, the summit here will see the countries spending more time discussing political issues than in the previous two summits.

Officials noted that the BRIC countries abstained from voting at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on the use of force against Libya. South Africa was the sole exception. But, as officials explained, it was left with little choice owing to immense pressure from the U.S.-UK combine. This was because the proponents of the use of force wanted both African countries on the UNSC — South Africa and Nigeria — to acquiesce the use of force. Nigeria made it known that it would fall in line only if South Africa did so.

However, officials cautioned against reading too much into the accent on political discussions at the BRICS summit because this is more of a negotiating group with other world powers, than a coordinating one.

The officials drew attention to Dr. Singh's pre-departure statement in this regard to point out that the turmoil in West Asia and North Africa had the potential to upset long-established lines of energy supply.

“The traditional sources of economic growth are still under stress, even as fresh uncertainties have emerged as a result of recent developments in different parts of the world,” Dr. Singh had observed.

He said India's other priorities at the BRICS summit were a review of the state of the world economy and what contribution this grouping could make in sustaining global economic and financial recovery.

“If we can coordinate our positions on some key areas such as sustainable development, balanced growth, energy and food security, reform of international financial institutions and balanced trade that will be to our advantage,” he had said.

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