Jaishankar, Wang Yi to take part in BRICS Ministerial meeting on Tuesday

Meeting will be watched closely for any expression of support for proposal on patent waiver for coronavirus vaccines

Updated - May 27, 2021 10:31 pm IST

Published - May 27, 2021 10:30 pm IST - NEW DELHI

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. File

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. File

Amidst continuing tensions between India and China at the Line of Actual Control, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will participate in a virtual BRICS Ministerial meeting chaired by India, along with the Foreign Ministers of Brazil, Russia and South Africa on Tuesday, officials confirmed.

The meeting will also be watched closely for any expression of support from the entire grouping for the India-South Africa proposal at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) that asks for a patent waiver for coronavirus vaccines, which would be a big boost for the proposal. About 60 countries have already backed the proposal, the U.S. has recently agreed to support it, while the European Union has yet to give its final decision on it.

“The [BRICS Ministers] will exchange views on topical issues of international agenda, including regional conflicts, strengthening of international institutions, countering new challenges and threats, including COVID-19, as well as cooperation between the BRICS countries in the multilateral fora,” said a statement released by the Russian Foreign Ministry on Thursday, which confirmed the meeting will be held on June 1.

Prelude to BRICS summit

The Ministers will also set the course for the BRICS summit to be held later this year, either in person or virtually, which will be hosted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and will include Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.

On Tuesday, BRICS Sherpas began a six-day long meeting, led by Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, Sanjay Bhattacharya, that will negotiate the key deliverables for the BRICS summit. Sources confirmed that a discussion on the WTO proposals was amongst the subjects for consideration, but were not clear whether it would be part of the consensus at the end of the meeting.

India and South Africa had first made the proposal for the waiver of Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights on October 2 last year, with the WTO asking for a global agreement that the patents “do not create barriers to the timely access to affordable medical products including vaccines and medicines”, or research essential to combat COVID-19.

Earlier this month, China declared it would support the WTO proposal, and would help gather support for it at the text-consultation stage, and its support at the BRICS format will be significant as well.

Issues pertaining to China

“China expects the BRICS foreign ministers’ meeting to issue a strong voice on international solidarity against the epidemic, adherence to genuine multilateralism, proper response to global crises, and political settlement of hotspot issues, so as to safeguard the common interests of emerging markets and developing countries,” a statement from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing said.

Bilateral issues between India and China, including the ongoing stand-off at the Line of Actual Control, however, will not be discussed at the multilateral meet.

India announced its priorities for the BRICS@15 summit, with the motto “Cooperation for Continuity, Consolidation and Consensus” on the BRICS website, ahead of the Foreign Minister’s Meeting, including reform of multilateral organisations such as the UN, World Bank and WTO, countering terrorism, cooperation on health and enhancing people-to-people ties between the five BRICS countries that came together in 2006 as a grouping of emerging economies.

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