BRICS countries seek "virtual secretariat"

Foto: PTI Photo/Kamal Singh

Foto: PTI Photo/Kamal Singh

The BRICS leaders plan to discuss the creation of a single bank and a "virtual secretariat" at the forthcoming summit in South Africa.

At the fifth BRICS summit to date, and the first to be held on the African continent, the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa will discuss the creation of a new Development Bank and a "virtual secretariat". The hosts of the summit also plan to acquaint the other BRICS members with African issues.

The agenda of the BRICS summit, which will be held on March 26-27 in Durban, South Africa, particularly highlights last week's talks between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his South African counterpart Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.

It is known that one of the priority issues to be discussed by the leaders of the five-nation club is the creation of a BRICS Development Bank.

At a joint press conference on February 12, asked if Russia was in favor of such a structure, Lavrov replied: "The fact that the idea is being actively framed in preparation for the summit speaks for itself. It is being specifically addressed by the BRICS finance ministers, who will meet in Moscow on February 15, after which there will be more clarity on the matter."

Hot Topics: BRICS

Hot topic: BRICS

In addition, the leaders of the "five" will use the summit to discuss the creation of a permanent business council and a scientific research center under the BRICS aegis.

Also on the table will be the creation of a so-called BRICS "virtual secretariat." Most likely, it will be an online resource to host materials on BRICS activity and enable officials to correspond with each other on pressing matters.

"The BRICS organization plays a very important role in guaranteeing the interests of each member country and other developing economies within the framework of reforming the international monetary and financial system. It is my expectation that the documents and agreements being prepared ahead of the Durban summit will allow us to make considerable progress in this direction," said Lavrov. 

He also said that Russia supported the "logic of our South African partners to brief the other BRICS members on a range of problematic issues for Africa as a whole."

He also stated that Russian President Vladimir Putin would take part in the summit in Durban.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister and BRICS Sherpa Sergei Ryabkov told RIR that the decision to hold the fifth meeting of the organization in South Africa had been made at the previous summit in March 2012 in New Delhi.

"That top-level summit adopted the Delhi Declaration, the main document that unites Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa," Ryabkov said. "It contains 50 clauses on global stability, security, and prosperity and a message to the world outlining the organization's commitments. All of them are of fundamental importance as to the reasons and ambitions that lie behind the decision to unite our five emerging economies."

A year ago, observers noted a decision on trade and economic relations that sought to reject the dollar in bilateral trade. But in the words of Ryabkov, rejecting the dollar is not yet a viable option.

"The task ahead of us is to phase in national currencies in mutual settlements gradually," he explained.

Speaking to RIR, Vladimir Davydov, director of the Institute of Latin America under the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), corresponding member of the RAS, and member of the BRICS think tank, said that any talk of serious cooperation between the five nations was still premature.

"On the eve of their fifth summit, I think the BRICS countries have done everything necessary for the first step, but there remains a lot more to do. First of all, it cannot be said that the BRICS countries have managed to define the organization's institutional model. Second, there is a lack of clarity regarding the position of the BRICS members in various core institutions of global governance. Third, there has yet to be established a set of mechanisms to regulate multilateral cooperation in the fields of economics, technology, and science," remarked Davydov.

Furthermore, the BRICS do not see eye to eye on everything. For example, some are keen to discuss the issue of reforming the UN Security Council, while others are more interested in setting up a Development Bank. But despite the wide-ranging agenda, there is a clear dynamic for growth and cooperation. It is in this vein that preparations for the Durban summit are being made.

It is worth noting that in the midst of preparing for the BRICS summit in South Africa, U.S. bank Goldman Sachs has announced departure of 55-year-old economist Jim O'Neill as chairman of the asset management board. Twelve years ago, it was he who came up with BRIC as an acronym for Brazil, Russia, India, and China, the world's largest emerging economies.

In addition to its economic purport, the term quickly acquired political meaning: the BRICs had a sense of commonality that they felt allowed them to compete with the U.S. and the EU.

The Financial Times links O'Neill's departure to his department's poor recent performance.

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