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PM pitches for close ties among BRIC nations

By Ajay Kaul
April 16, 2010 11:06 IST
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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Noting that India, Russia, China and Brazil are resource-rich, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday pitched for close cooperation among them in the fields of energy and food security besides tapping potential in other sectors like trade and investment, science and technology and infrastructure.

Addressing the Brazil-Russia-India-China Summit in Brasilia, he said the four countries can benefit by sharing their experiences in the field of inclusive growth.

"We are four large countries with abundant resources, large populations and diverse societies. . . .We aspire for rapid growth for ourselves and for an external environment that is conducive to our development goals," Singh told the second Summit of the four-nation grouping here in the Brazilian capital.

Contending that the people of the four countries 'expect us to work together so as to bring the benefits of inclusive social and economic development to them', he identified energy and food security as two specific areas where they can work together.

"Our grouping includes two of the largest energy producers and two of the largest consumers in the world. We can cooperate in both upstream and downstream areas, and in the development of new fuels and clean energy technologies," he said.

Similarly, BRIC countries are both large producers and consumers of agricultural products, he said, proposing that the four nations should consider putting in place an architecture of food security that focusses on increasing agricultural productivity, better land use, sustainable farming practices and agro-processing.

Besides this, there is vast potential for cooperation in areas such as science and technology, trade and investment, pharmaceuticals and infrastructure, Singh said. "Investments in human capital will create new sources of growth."

The prime minister said BRIC countries have an important role to play in the shaping the pace, direction and sustainability of global economic growth.

Recalling that the four countries had at the last Summit decided to commission a BRIC Study on which way the world economy will move in the period ahead, Singh said India has circulated the draft terms of reference for the study and 'we would be happy to carry this idea forward.'

On the global economic and financial crisis, he said while it appears that that it is 'behind us, it is still early to say that we are on the path of long term recovery.'

Singh said a lot would depend on how the developed economies fare.

"Sustainable recovery will also depend on several factors such as enhanced investment for infrastructure development, stable capital flows to the developing markets, appropriate macroeconomic adjustments, and avoiding complacency in the area of financial sector reforms," Singh said, adding financial inclusion will be a major determinant of success.

Singh asked the leaders of other three BRIC countries that the grouping should prepare for the forthcoming G-20 Summits in Toronto and Seoul.

"Their outcomes need to be supportive of the post crisis-phase of the recovery process. This requires the avoidance of protectionism in all its forms, commitment to a fair and rule-based trading system, reform of international financial institutions and better regulation and supervision," he said.

Singh said capital adequacy of international institutions should be ensured to fund development needs and for this, finance ministers of the four countries should be in regular touch with each other.

Noting that BRIC nations represent an important voice in the global climate discourse, Singh said, 'despite its shortcomings', the Copenhagen Conference did generate a broad understanding on several contentious issues.

Referring to the next summit on climate change in Mexico in 2011, he said the BRIC approach to the Cancun Conference should be anchored within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Kyoto Protocol and the Bali Roadmap.

"Technology will be a key element in our strategy to meet the challenge of climate change.

"Each of us has our own strengths in climate-friendly technologies. If we pool our best scientific and technological resources, BRIC nations can set a fine example in promoting collaborative development, deployment and dissemination of clean energy and renewable technologies," Singh said.

He said BRIC countries are also uniquely placed to contribute to reforming the architecture of global governance.

"A genuine reform of the Security Council by expansion in its permanent membership as well as non-permanent membership and improvement in its working methods is essential to make the United Nations reflective of contemporary realities," Singh emphasised.

On terrorism, he said it poses a 'special challenge to our development efforts' and all the four countries should unite in efforts to combat this scourge.

The BRIC countries should also step up cooperation in addressing other non-traditional threats to security, the prime minister said.

Image: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

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Ajay Kaul in Brasilia
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