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BRICS Foreign Ministers expected to brainstorm joint response to COVID-19 today

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar addressing a press conference at the BRICS Summit in Xiamen China's Fujian Province. File photo   | Photo Credit: AP

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar will join his counterparts from Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa on Tuesday, as the BRICS grouping goes into a major brainstorming session to forge a joint response to counter the COVID-19 pandemic, followed by preparations for an economic recovery of the emerging economies and the Global South.

Also read: For BRICS, challenges and opportunities

The ministerial videoconference hosted by Russia, the current rotating head of the BRICS, is also expected to crystal ball the post COVID-19 global order and the role of the emerging economies in shaping it.

Interactive map of confirmed coronavirus cases in India

Official sources told The Hindu that strategising a response to the novel coronavirus would be the main focus of the virtual dialogue. “Obviously COVID-19 will be the main topic of the conference. But the Foreign Ministers will also engage in free and open discussion on regional and global issues, including practical concerns such as possibility of holding the proposed BRICS summit in July in St. Petersburg,” the source said.

Also read: PM Modi hints at graded exit from lockdown, says danger not over

‘Self -help measures’

The official pointed out that BRICS was looking at the possibility of additional “self-help” measures that the grouping could adopt, following the initiatives adopted during the recently concluded meeting of the board of governors of the BRICS New Development Bank (NDB) on April 20.

“Three days ago, the Bank fully disbursed a USD 1 billion emergency loan to China. This week, we will present to the Board of Directors, an emergency loan of USD 1 billion to India. The Bank is in discussions with Brazil and South Africa for loans of USD 1 billion each. All three loans are along similar lines to the China loan. And we stand ready to do more, if our members request it, NDB President K.V. Kamath said last Monday during a videoconference.

He pointed out that the NDB had the “financial capacity” to provide $10 billion in “crisis-related assistance” to BRICS member-countries.

Export of medicine

Ahead of Tuesday’s meeting, fellow BRICS countries are actively engaging each other on a bilateral format. For instance, India has cleared exports of 130 million hydroxychloroquine tablets, used in the line of treatment for COVID-19 to Russia, the sources said. The distribution is being done in two batches, one of 30 million tablets and another of 100 million tablets.

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The conversation on combating the pandemic is likely to lead to a discussion of the global role of the BRICS in Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response (HADR). “This idea of coordinated response to HADR issues is very timely, which the Foreign Ministers are likely to discuss. We already have a disaster response mechanism within the BRICS but we have to revive and maintain it,” the sources said.

The sources added the BRICS countries were looking forward to work in harmony with global and multilateral institutions, so that a collective global response to defeat the virus could be achieved.

“ On the road ahead, we wish to work on three principles. First, we will continue to respect the centrality of the United Nations as the core of the global system, guided by the U.N. charter and international law. Second, we will actively cooperate with the G-20 grouping, which is playing a nodal role in the fight against the virus. Finally, we are not interested in exercising leadership in writing the rules of a transitioning global system,” the sources observed.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2021 10:27:03 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/brics-foreign-ministers-expected-to-brainstorm-joint-response-to-covid-19-today/article31450648.ece

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