BRICS lead­ers dis­cuss how to shape global trade, fi­nance

Malta Independent - - WORLD - Nir­mala Ge­orge

The lead­ers of five of the world’s fast-ris­ing pow­ers were meet­ing Sun­day in the south­west­ern In­dian state of Goa for their an­nual sum­mit at a time when their abil­ity to shape the global di­a­logue on in­ter­na­tional pol­i­tics and fi­nance is in­creas­ingly be­ing ques­tioned.

Brazil, Rus­sia, In­dia, China and South Africa, or BRICS, face the tough task of as­sert­ing their grow­ing in­flu­ence as a power group even as they bridge their own trade ri­val­ries to help grow their economies.

Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping of China, Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, Brazil­ian Pres­i­dent Michel Te­mer and South African Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma joined In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi at the sum­mit venue in a five-star ho­tel in Goa’s Benaulim vil­lage.

The group rep­re­sents nearly half of the world’s pop­u­la­tion and a quar­ter of its econ­omy at $16.6 tril­lion. But BRICS are bat­tling the eco­nomic slow­down and po­lit­i­cally each mem­ber wants the oth­ers to sup­port its poli­cies — Rus­sia on Syria, China on the South China Sea and In­dia on its fight against ter­ror­ism.

The eco­nomic clout of the group has flagged in re­cent years with the slow­down.

In Rus­sia, the de­cline in global oil and com­mod­ity prices cou­pled with bit­ing West­ern sanc­tions have dealt a blow to the econ­omy. The Chi­nese econ­omy has slowed to its slow­est pace in 25 years, although its 7 per­cent growth rate still places it among the fastest grow­ing global economies.

South African re­mains caught in se­vere eco­nomic tur­moil with the coun­try’s credit rat­ing at risk of be­ing down­graded to junk by year-end.

Brazil is only just emerg­ing from months of the worst eco­nomic re­ces­sion it has seen since the 1930s, a sit­u­a­tion that was fur­ther wors-

ened by re­cent po­lit­i­cal tur­moil.

In­dia, although the fastest grow­ing coun­try in the world at 7.5 per­cent an­nu­ally, is grap­pling with wide­spread poverty and the chal­lenge of strikes against mil­i­tants in Kash­mir.

When they sit down to talk, the lead­ers will at­tempt to push their own in­ter­ests.

China, look­ing to ex­pand ac­cess for Chi­nese goods, is keen that the BRICS adopt a free trade agree­ment that would open up their mar­kets fur­ther. But the other mem­bers of the group, al­ready bur­dened by cheap Chi­nese im­ports and huge trade deficits with Bei­jing, could shoot down any such pro­posal.

In­dia would be look­ing at get­ting sup­port for a strongly worded state­ment on global ter­ror­ism stem­ming from its own con­cerns about mil­i­tants cross­ing the bor­der from Pak­istan into In­dian-con­trolled Kash­mir.

Other pro­pos­als that could find fa­vor would be mea­sures to pro­mote busi­ness, such as eas­ing visa regimes to al­low long-term, mul­ti­ple en­try visas to busi­ness lead­ers.

The BRICS lead­ers could also push for more in­vest­ments from China, es­pe­cially in fund­ing in­fra­struc­ture projects, some­thing that other BRICS coun­tries are seek­ing. In this con­text, the group may de­cide to speed up dis­bur­sal of in­fra­struc­ture fi­nanc­ing through the New Devel­op­ment Bank that the BRICS coun­tries set up in 2014 as an al­ter­na­tive to the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund.

The lead­ers are ex­pected to push through a de­ci­sion to cre­ate their own credit rat­ing agency, one which they feel would treat de­vel­op­ing coun­tries more fairly, un­like the ex­ist­ing three main rat­ing agen­cies that tra­di­tion­ally fa­vor West­ern economies.

An­other key out­come would be the set­ting up of a think tank to pro­vide new ideas on mul­ti­lat­eral fund­ing to help shift the global di­a­logue on in­ter­na­tional fi­nance.

Lead­ers of BRICS coun­tries, from left, Brazil­ian Pres­i­dent Michel Te­mer, Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi, Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping, and South African Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma raise their hand for a group photo at the start of their sum­mit in Goa, In­dia yes­ter­day. Lead­ers of five of the world's fast-ris­ing pow­ers are meet­ing in the south­west­ern In­dian state of Goa for their an­nual sum­mit at a time when their abil­ity to shape the global di­a­logue on in­ter­na­tional pol­i­tics and fi­nance is in­creas­ingly be­ing ques­tioned. Brazil, Rus­sia, In­dia, China and South Africa, or BRICS, face the tough task of as­sert­ing their grow­ing in­flu­ence as a power group even as they bridge their own trade ri­val­ries to help grow their economies Pho­to­graph: AP

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