BRICs, IBSA – Still Here!?

I was awoken out of a slight stupor by a writer from the Economist, calling to ask me for some information on the upcoming summit(s) scheduled for Brasilia in April.  I thank him for the fillip. 

And indeed there are – I believe - two summits.  On the 15th I understand IBSA (India, Brazil and South Africa) are meeting to discuss and encourage trade and investment among the 3 large economy democracies (I should take the opportunity to plug the upcoming book Rising States, Rising Institutions: Challenges for Global Governance (Brookings Institution Press, 2010)My co-editor for this volume, Andrew Cooper is the expert on IBSA and other like things, so take a look at his chapter 3 and you will learn much about IBSA, BRICs and BRICSAM.). 

On April 16th the BRICs are meeting for their ‘annual’ meeting- the first since Yekaterinburg in Russia.  So, Brazil, Russian, Indian and Chinese leaders will gather together.  Now the architecture of global governance has been significantly altered since the last summit.  Most evidently Pittsburgh has come and gone and the G20 leaders summit is now the declared economic leaders' club.  So, why this summit just a few months before the scheduled G20 in Toronto in June?  Well, Roberto Jaguaribe, the assistant secretary-general for political affairs in the Foreign Ministry has been travelling to national capitals to help forge the agenda.  But as he admits this not a negotiating group but rather a ‘convergence’ group of the large emerging market countries that have a growing role - and interest - in several aspects of international relations. 

Well John O’Neill of Goldman Sachs may yet have the last laugh on the BRICs.  He the creator of the BRICs – which was a grouping for potential investment purposes – may find that this group of rising powers may yet have a continuing life.  Now it may be that the summit will give way to a caucus at the G20 meetings.  Or, the BRICs may continue to have a distinct and autonomous life where the four – well three unless oil prices are high - large emerging economies can gather and discuss matters of mutual interest.  Not surprisingly, Jaguaribe suggests that the leaders will be meeting examine economic-financial themes (indeed the last summit was notable for raising the reserve currency status of the American dollar).  But the assistant secretary general also suggested that that the leaders would be discussing cooperation in agriculture and energy and possibly also science and technology.  In addition, the meeting will open a BRIC business forum that had been called for in the previous summit statement.  And the meeting might advance an institutional mechanism for coordination among the four.    

The intricacies of global governance architecture keep evolving.

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