For a group of cognoscenti from Brazil, Russia, India and China (the BRICs) it was a unique opportunity, just before a summit of heads of state of these countries. So, they sat down for a serious discussion of, well, almost everything.
Participating in the high-level strategy session were the head (minister) of the Secretariat for Strategic Affairs, Samuel Pinheiro Guimarães; the secretary-general of the Foreign Ministry, Antonio Patriota; the ambassador of India in Brazil, B. S. Prakash; the vice president of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Li Yang; and the director of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Vladimir Davydov.
The group pondered the Great Recession of 2008-2009, its causes and consequences. Another subject was the possibility that by 2050 the BRICs will be more powerful economically than today’s powerful G-6 (the United States, Japan, Germany, Britain, France and Italy)
That possibility was posited by Jim O’Neill, an economist who heads Goldman Sachs’ Global Economic Research unit. In 2001 he coined the term BRIC.
Marcio Pochmann, the president of the Applied Economic Research Institute (Ipea), who observed the meeting, said that it was a chance to bring together the best in BRIC intelligence and knowledge. And that such a gathering would bear fruit in the form of information that would be passed on to the heads of state enabling them to make more informed decisions.
“These talks are in tune with the challenges the world faces. The problems being discussed are common problems such as the environment, shifts in consumption around the world and in the BRICs, monetary issues and global governance,” explained Pochmann.
The IBSA Summit
Representatives of a new multilateral group, the trilateral IBSA, consisting of Índia, Brazil and South África, held their first international forum and summit in Brasília, which included an unprecedented formal meeting with the Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister, Riad Al-Malki.
According to Brazil’s Foreign Minister, Celso Amorim, the IBSA countries have discussed the problems of the Middle East and “… are searching for ways to assist in the peace process in that area.”
Amorim pointed out that it is a fact that the peace process has just about come to a standstill, among other reasons, because of the construction of new housing in Jerusalem by Israel.
“The peace talks have been interrupted. There has not been a positive evolution,” declared Amorim. “IBSA is in favor of a Palestinian state that is viable… and the reestablishment of the 1967 borders. We believe we can contribute to the peace process with new ideas and have a positive influence.”
Because of the earthquake in China president Hu Jintao decided to move the date of his return ahead by a day. As a result, the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) summit ended up happening a day earlier together with the IBSA (India, Brazil, South Africa) summit.
Celso Amorim, the Foreign Minister, summed it up: “We are doing in one day what we were going to do in two days. We are pleased that Hu Jintao generously did come to Brazil at least for one day.”
One of the agreements reached by the BRIC group was cooperation among development banks for infrastructure projects.
The final declaration by the group called for United Nations reforms so as to turn that organization more “efficient, representative and objective.”
However, the document did not clearly come out in favor of a permanent seat on the UN Security Council for Brazil, although president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and the prime minister of India, Monmohan Singh, were favorable to the idea.
In a closing statement, Lula declared that the BRICs have a fundamental role to play in building a new international order that is more just, representative and safe.