Tuesday, Sep 30, 2014

Fortaleza vs Washington

The sixth BRICS summit was different from the others because it resulted in a concrete decision, the establishment of a financial instrument. (Source: Reuters) The sixth BRICS summit was different from the others because it resulted in a concrete decision, the establishment of a financial instrument. (Source: Reuters)
Written by Christophe Jaffrelot | Posted: July 25, 2014 12:48 am

The sixth BRICS summit, which took place at Fortaleza, Brazil, in mid-July, has started a new cycle in the life of this grouping. Not just because all the member countries had already hosted one summit and Brazil was organising its second. And not because of the worldview that was reflected in the final communique. This weltanschauung remains overdetermined by a strong attachment to state sovereignty that is not compatible with external interference. Hence the reiteration, in the final communique, that “national dialogue and reconciliation are key to the political solution for the Syrian crisis”. How the BRICS can help this dialogue take place does not seem to have been discussed in the summit. The list of the countries under review this year was longer — Mali, South Sudan, the Central African Republic, Iran, Ukraine, Israel and Palestine, Iraq — probably because the world has grown increasingly unstable. But the BRICS’s predicament remained the same.

Narendra Modi, in his speech, said: “We should explore how BRICS members can work together in helping end the conflict in Iraq”. But the final communique was much less action-oriented. Its co-authors simply declared, “We emphasise the importance of national reconciliation and unity in Iraq, taking into consideration the wars and conflicts the Iraqi people have suffered, and in this context we commend the peaceful and orderly holding of the latest parliamentary elections.” The Fortaleza meeting was not innovative on climate change either. The emphasis on the required energy transition remained equally abstract. The co-authors of the 53th resolution said: “We stand for strengthening international cooperation to promote renewable and clean energy and to universalise energy access, which is of great importance to improving the standard of living of our people.”

The sixth BRICS summit was different from the others because it resulted in a concrete decision, the establishment of a financial instrument. This innovation had been in the pipeline for at least two years. In fact, it was the brainchild of Manmohan Singh (but nobody acknowledged this fact), who had made this proposal during the 2012 BRICS meeting in Delhi. It was discussed again during the Durban summit, where an agreement was signed by the parties to prepare the ground for this significant achievement. The final product of this collective thought process is not as ambitious as its architects might have expected, but it may just be a beginning. This New Development Bank (NDB) will have authorised capital of $100 billion. The initial subscribed capital will be $50 billion, equally shared among the five members. This is clearly not enough to cater to the infrastructural needs of the BRICS countries. In parallel, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa continued…

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