BRICS 10th summit: Johannesburg Declaration

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BRICS 10th Summit:
  • The 10th summit, framed its deliberations against U.S. President Donald Trump’s unconventional approach on world affairs, particularly the looming trade wars.
  • BRICS leaders, stressed “the centrality of the rules-based, transparent, non-discriminatory, open and inclusive multilateral trading”, based on the World Trade Organisation.
  • This stemmed from their broader commitment to cooperate for strengthening multilateralism, the rule of law and an equitable international order.
  • That one of the BRICS members (China) does not follow in word and spirit this high-sounding prescription in regard to Asian affairs may have escaped attention.
  • The other big idea emanating from the summit is to help nations to prepare for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
  • South Africa, as the host, stepped in on it and managed to create sufficient enthusiasm for it.
  • Articulated the need for :
    • New strategy on employment.

    • Education
    • Skill development as the digital revolution unfolds.

Africa, BRICS Plus

  • The BRICS outreach to Africa began at the last summit hosted by South Africa, in 2013; it has picked up momentum now. But African leaders want more.
  • They need big loans from the New Development Bank (NDB) for their infrastructure projects. So far, the NDB has dispersed loans totalling $5.1 billion — all to its members only.
  • China introduced the “BRICS Plus” format at the Xiamen summit last year by inviting a few countries from different regions.
  • South Africa emulated it, arranging the attendance of top-level representation of five nations of its choice: Argentina, Jamaica, Turkey, Indonesia and Egypt.

 Unity and divergence

  • As a partnership that represents over 40% of the world’s population and accounts for 22% of global GDP, BRICS will continue to be an influential voice as long as its convergences prevail over its divergences.
  • Changing power equations within BRICS are being watched closely. China’s dominance is a reality even as the grouping asserts the sovereign equality of all members.
  • China-Russia proximity has been a continuing factor. Given its political and economic travails, Brazil played a low-profile role.
  • Modi and his delegation were pro-active and visible. A South African commentator observed that India was playing “a delicate geopolitical game with the U.S., China and Russia as their spheres of influence wax and wane” across regions.
  • To Delhi’s satisfaction, four paragraphs in the summit declaration were devoted to the problem of international terrorism.
  • The India-South Africa partnership helped to ensure that the Johannesburg Declaration was balanced and well-rounded in its orientation.