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Dec 26 2016
BRICS can lead Global South
By Liu Zongyi
The formation of the New Development Bank (NDB) is a mission half accomplished, and reforming the international financial and trade architecture should be the next major undertaking of the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) grouping, says a top Chinese scholar.

In an exclusive interview with The Hindu , which coincided with the first anniversary of the NDB, Liu Zongyi of the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies proposed that the BRICS, which established the Shanghai-based lender, should focus on the September summit of the G-20 countries in Hangzhou.

In that forum of the emerging and developed economies, the BRICS must jointly reinforce their call to further democratise the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. “The G-20 summit will be followed by the BRICS summit in Goa in October. The call for the reform of the international financial architecture and preservation of some of the basic rules of global trade can be reinforced in Goa,” he observed.

Dr. Liu pointed out that the BRICS countries at the G-20 summit should also speak with one voice in defence of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

“The United States would like to establish mega-regional agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), among a large number of countries in the Asia-Pacific and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the European Union. That will naturally dilute the significance of the WTO, which is not in our interest.” Dr. Liu proposed that the BRICS countries should now begin to work together on establishing Free Trade Area (FTA). “The FTA can be based on the model of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).”

The RCEP is a proposed giant free trade agreement (FTA) between the ten member states of the Association of South East Asian Nations (AEAN) and Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand. “India and China have a major opportunity to work closely together to make the RCEP a success. If they succeed there, it will build tremendous confidence to replicate this experience in the formation of a BRICS- FTA,” he observed.

Expanding reach

Dr. Liu added that the pursuit of the RCEP model would allow the five BRICS members to establish contacts with several additional countries, expanding the grouping’s global reach.

“Eventually the BRICS should expand by including additional members”. The Chinese scholar stressed that the BRICS countries should now view themselves as an influential “global core,” as the grouping interconnects countries in Asia, Eurasia, Africa and Latin America. But in order to realise its aspiration, the BRICS would do well to establish a sophisticated network of institutions that will bring the global South to the forefront of the international agenda.

Consequently, Dr. Liu advocated that drawing from the experience of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), the BRICS can invite “dialogue partners and observers,” from various parts of the globe, especially the developing countries. “Now what should be basic agenda of this dialogue? Perhaps strategising the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development goals can steer this dialogue.”

The Agenda includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals to end poverty, combat inequality and injustice, and address climate change by 2030.

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