By Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury
NEW DELHI – Prime Minister Narendra Modi has offered to organise the first Brics fair in India and proposed making clean energy the first major initiative of the Brics bank while outlining a 10-point programme for future cooperation. Modi’s ‘Das Kadam,’ proposed during his address of the Brics plenary at the 7th summit in the Russian city of Ufa, included a trade fair, a railway research centre, cooperation among supreme audit institutions, a digital initiative, an agricultural research centre, a forum of state/local governments among the Brics nations, cooperation among cities in urbanisation, a sports council and an annual sports meet, the first major project of the New Development Bank to be in the field of clean energy, and a film festival. The Brics summit formalised the $100 billion New Development Bank and a currency reserve pool worth another $100 billion.
Modi’s suggestions were presented amid the adoption of common Economic Cooperation Strategy adopted at Ufa by the world’s five growing economies at this Summit. He said this strategy, which includes a number of social initiatives, was a milestone in BRICS 2015 evolution. This Strategy was the brainchild of Russia, host for the current BRICS Summit The BRICS Economic Cooperation Strategy is aimed at creating a framework for easier trade between the BRICS developing markets. It is the first comprehensive document of its kind and introduces entirely new areas of cooperation such as physical, institutional and people-to-people connectivity.
“For the first time our countries managed to negotiate and finalise the comprehensive document – the Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership -that touches upon the responsibility of different ministers and requires high-level coordination,” Modi said, adding, “The Contingency Reserve Arrangement will soon become a reality, which will help in stabilising the BRICS economies.”
The Contingency Reserve Arrangement to facilitate intra-group trade in members’ local currencies assumes even more importance in the context of the Greek bailout crisis that along with China’s stock market plunge has revived the spectre of weaker economic growth.
Customs arrangement among the Brics nations would be a major step in boosting trade, Modi said. At the summit the five countries also signed an agreement on creating a joint BRICS website, which will act as a virtual secretariat of the group. The Central Banks of the five countries have also signed cooperation agreements with the New Development Bank. The BRICS deliberations on the current global political and economic situation were reflected in the Ufa Declaration adopted at the end of the Summit. The BRICS bloc noted the fragile recovery of global growth and also said they were “concerned about potential spillover effects from the unconventional monetary policies of the advanced economies”.
The Ufa declaration also asserted that “the NDB (New Development Bank” shall serve as a powerful instrument for financing infrastructure investment and sustainable development projects in the BRICS and other developing countries and emerging market economies”.
“We welcome the proposal for the NDB to cooperate closely with existing and new financing mechanisms including the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank,” said the document. In major support for Russian President Putin, his BRICS counterparts supported Moscow by opposing the Western sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine conflict. “We condemn unilateral military interventions and economic sanctions in violation of international law and universally recognized norms of international relations. Bearing this in mind, we emphasize the unique importance of the indivisible nature of security, and that no State should strengthen its security at the expense of the security of others,” noted the Ufa communique.
“We emphasise the need for universal adherence to principles and rules of international law in their interrelation and integrity, discarding the resort to “double standards” and avoiding placing interests of some countries above others,” said the document in what many would say indirect reference to US interference in countries like Syria.
Modi, in his address to the BRICS Business Council and the plenary, proposed that the five countries — Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa — should host an annual trade fair and that India could host the inaugural fair next year. India will host the BRICS summit in 2016.
The PM also proposed that as part of the sports cooperation, an annual football event, especially under 15, could be held every year. He suggested that India could host the football event next year.
Modi further proposed a BRICS film festival and film awards, which he said would give a boost to film-making and people-to-people contact. Seeking united approach to fight terror, Modi said: “We should speak in one voice against terrorism, without distinction and discrimination between groups and countries, sponsors and targets.”
He also pointed towards the urgent need for UN Security Council reforms. “Whatever is the nature of challenge – political, social, and economic – we will be more effective in addressing them if we complete the reforms of the UN, especially its Security Council, within a fixed time frame. These reforms are urgently required, if the global institution is to retain its role and relevance in the 21st century.” – The Economic Times