Brasilia Hosting the Large Emerging Economies – IBSA and the BRICs

As identified in an earlier blog post (BRICs, IBSA – Still Here!?) the leaders of the large emerging markets met first in Brasilia on the 15th for the fourth IBSA – Brazil, India and South Africa, and then on the 16th for the second BRICs – Brazil, Russia, India and China. 

I can tell you where the next meetings are scheduled – it is South Africa for IBSA’s 2011 meeting and China for the BRICs third leaders meeting. Now giving this out is a hint – I suppose – that the results of these two meetings are rather underwhelming.

Let’s start with the BRIC Communiqué.  The major heads include:

  • Common vision and global governance;
  • International economic and financial issues;
  • International trade;
  • Development;
  • Agriculture;
  • Fight against poverty;
  • Energy;
  • Climate change;
  • Terrorism;
  • Alliance of civilizations;
  • Haiti; and
  • Cooperation

I guess a rather standard list of key global governance challenges.  And the first section does underscore the Leaders’ concern and stress on the G20 as a central global governance institution – in fact the Leaders couldn’t resist a hit on the G8 - though never named it - with the Leaders praising the G20 for being, “broader, more inclusive, diverse, representative and effective.”

And the BRICs did suggest that they would ask their finance ministers and central bankers to look into regional monetary arrangements and discuss modalities of cooperation between the BRICs  - an interesting if not particularly complete idea. 

But reading through this Communiqué is not particularly edifying. The Leaders demand the changes in the IFIs that have already largely been committed to by the G20.  They urge greater Brazilian and Indian participation in the UN – read that as another in the endless declarations for UN Security Council reform – yawn. 

The now tired refrain for completion of the Doha Round is present also as is the declaration not to adopt trade protection measures – even though all have. 

There is little that is new it seems and even in the area where the BRICs had made ‘some waves’ – the reform of the reserve currency system of the US dollar - has been dropped for a declaration that the BRICs would “study feasibilities of monetary cooperation, including local currency trade settlement arrangement between countries.”   

The bottom line is that the four either called for the commitment to policies that had been committed to elsewhere particularly in the G20, or there is the usual rhetoric for greater assistance to the developing world – which is important but where is the joint commitment.  There is much collective effort to be undertaken in global governance – but it is not much in evidence here.

As for IBSA I struggled to find the fourth joint declaration – I was unsuccessful.  Still it is evident from the reports that the three countries are focusing on the implementation of the various initiatives which the three have launched under the IBSA framework The Brasilia Declaration June 6, 2003 (The Foreign Ministers) and the First Joint Declaration, September 23, 2006. And to be fair IBSA is really designed so that these three large democratic emerging economies will promote cooperation in agriculture, science and technology, energy, economic cooperation, transportation, ocean research and space science.  As Prime Minister Singh declared at the start of this meeting:

We have worked together on trade, development, and climate change issues.  We share similar views with regard to the reform of global institutions of governance.  We are united by the primacy we accord to development and issues such as food security, social inclusiveness and energy security.

 Well there you have it – continuance but rather muted leadership.

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