ASTANA – Ambassadors and representatives of the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) discussed results of the most recent BRICS summit in Fortaleza, Brazil, including the establishment of a new BRICS development bank and currency reserve, at the Kazakh Humanitarian Law University (KAZGUU) in Astana on Sept. 23.
They also took questions from the audience on potential new BRICS members, BRICS’ role in diplomacy and other topics.
Rector of KAZGUU University Maksut Narikbayev opened the session. In their remarks, the BRICS representatives outlined their countries’ actions within the BRICS framework and reaffirmed their commitment to sustainable development, promoting the reform of international institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank and providing a new platform for political and diplomatic dialogue.
The most significant developments from the Fortaleza summit include the establishment of a new BRICS development bank, initially funded with $50 billion, to be used to support infrastructure and sustainable development projects, as well as the BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement of up to $100 billion to help BRICS members in the case of balance of payment or other currency pressures. These are contributions to the “international safety net,” said Ambassador of Brazil to Kazakhstan Demetrio Bueno Carvalho.
The BRICS Development Bank will supplement rather than substitute for the work of other international organisations, he said. “It will provide additional finance in a crucial moment for us developing countries, emerging markets, because according to estimates, we will need about $2 trillion in investment in infrastructure in the next decade.”
Carvalho praised the “comprehensive” final declaration of the Fortaleza summit, which encompasses environmental and climate change issues, economics and trade, nuclear policy and other subjects.
Critics have been saying that the heterogeneous, geographically distant BRICS countries could never create a common, concrete and relevant position, he said. “The Fortaleza Declaration, if you look at it … you see the level of detail and the complexities of the positions that we managed to agree upon, on those and other issues.”
The next cycle of summits, he said, will focus on deepening cooperation through interlinking BRICS markets, integrating financial systems, increasing infrastructure connectivity and fostering more interaction among their populations. But BRICS is not an oppositional force, but one engaged in developing relations with all countries, particularly developing ones.
Russia regards BRICS as one of the pivotal directions of its foreign policy, and both a symbol and a generator of a multipolar world, Ambassador of Russia to Kazakhstan Mikhail Bocharnikov said, as well as a contribution to global peace and economic stability.
“Regarding BRICS as an alliance of the like-minded, one can’t fail to point out the intention of the group to reform in an equitable vein the world financial economic system,” he said. BRICS countries call for IMF reform that reflects the increased role of emerging markets and developing countries, and a review of the fund’s quartets. The World Bank, he said, will only realise its potential through democratic management structures and expanded financial capabilities serving its clients. BRICS looks forward to the beginning of the work of reviewing the structure of the bank’s joint stock capital, the Russian envoy added.
“The BRICS countries, by their very existence and their rapid economic growth, are already contributing to the transformation of today’s world order, where several countries and blocs will share in global leadership,” Charge d’Affaires of the Embassy of India in Kazakhstan Raghu Gururaj said in his remarks. This is not the aim of BRICS, he said, but may happen as a result of the combined economic successes of the countries under the umbrella of BRICS.
First Secretary of the Embassy of China in Kazakhstan Wu Qiong noted that political coordination had been a focus of the last summit, and that the BRICS leaders had, with one voice, proposed a series of recommendations on regional and global problems.
She also praised the expanded cooperation between regions, saying the summit had opened a conversation between South American leaders and BRICS for the first time. “The five countries have unanimously contended their willingness to build a cooperative partnership with South American countries, in order to cooperate with them in such fields as industry development and infrastructures construction and also to provide support to their sustainable development.”
“The BRICS countries have a lot of experience in addressing poverty. So when we say we want to look at transforming the World Bank, when we say we want to look at transforming UN structures, we come with a rich history and a rich experience,” Ambassador of South Africa to Kazakhstan Shirish Manaklal Soni noted.
BRICS is action as well as talk, he said: the heads of state agreed at the summit that all the action plans of the 2013 eThekwini Declaration from Durban had been delivered. “It’s very significant that all of the action plans were 100 percent delivered; that’s a very positive sign. It’s not just a talk shop, it’s getting budgets aligned, getting strategies aligned and implementing real work,” Soni said.
The session drew a full hall of diplomats, students, press and other attendees, who put questions about the Russian economic contraction, the possibility of a BRICS monetary unit, Kazakhstan’s relationship with BRICS and BRICS’ diplomatic role, to the panellists.
Asked about the membership of countries in recession, the Russian ambassador said that there was no mechanism for modifying membership based on individual economic growth and that BRICS growth was assessed as an aggregate. “I don’t think that in Russia we shall have a recession, no more so than in, say, the countries of, say, the European Union. The growth will be there,” he added.
Carvalho added that BRICS’ economies are growing faster than the world average and their collective contribution is fundamental to the global economic recovery.
Regarding BRICS’s role in the relationship between Russian and the EU and U.S. in light of recent sanctions, the Russian ambassador said that the BRICS statement on international relations was broad and inclusive. “I don’t think there is anything special within BRICS that should be done [to reconcile Russia and the West],” he said. “There is no conflict between Russia and the West,” he added, only an internal conflict in Ukraine, which is being dealt with at the moment.
The representatives also said there were no plans to create a BRICS monetary unit, nor to admit new members.
Deputy Minister of International Affairs of Kazakhstan Askar Mussinov, closing the session, said Kazakhstan welcomed the establishment of the new development bank and reserve fund. “We believe that the creation of new financial institutions will contribute to the deepening of cooperation between the BRICS countries, strengthening the global financial safety net and will be an important complement to existing international mechanisms.” Every country in the world, despite its political and economic opportunities, has the right to take part in solving global economic problems, he said.
There are great prospects for cooperation between the newly established Eurasian Economic Union and BRICS, Mussinov said, concluding that Kazakhstan intends to develop all-around cooperation with all BRICS countries.