GP Insights

GP Insights # 185, 16 November 2019

Brazil: Leaders meet for the 11th BRICS Summit
Parikshith Pradeep

What happened?
During 14- 15 November, the 11th BRICS summit was held in Brasilia, Brazil. The five countries focussed on 'economic growth for an innovative future', which included talks on innovation, trade, technology and culture. The BRICS declaration made references to economic cooperation between the five countries, regional situations on a pan-global level and stressed upon intra-BRICS cooperation. Additionally, the member countries have expressed their support for hosting the 12th BRICS summit in St. Petersburg, Russia.
PM Modi pushed for foreign investments by terming India as 'investment-friendly'. On the side-lines, he held bilateral meets with the Brazilian President Bolsonaro, Putin and Xi to discuss issue-specific concerns.
What is the background?
While the international community has shared mixed opinions of the grouping, consecutive summit outcomes have improved. This year witnessed a slew of programs and joint engagements by nations in sectors such as health, water resources, infrastructure and trade. This is the second meeting in Brazil since the group's formation. The five nations host more than a third of the world's population, accounting for more than 20% of the world's GDP. 
For India, the meeting comes on an opportune moment, after its recent exit from the RCEP deal. 
What does it mean?
First, the meeting upholds the spirit of collective negotiations at a time when multilateralism and regional groupings have weakened. The document also highlights particulars regarding the Dispute Settlement Mechanism in WTO, the grave situation in the middle east and UNSC reforms, among others. The summit pushed for reforming organisational structures at the UN and IMF. This signals at the comprehensive approach of BRICS in shaping rational international structures. 
Second, bilateral talks between India, Russia, China and Brazil signifies the need for repairing ties and strengthening existing ones. Modi and Putin shared views on bilateral trade, including core sectors like oil and natural gas. Surprisingly, Putin called for India's participation in the Arctic, highlighting its natural gas potential. While Modi and Xi discussed trade and investment, the two leaders also stressed upon strengthening diplomatic ties and made mentions to boundaries and borders. 
Third, the summit has ventured deep into areas such as innovation, digital economy and transnational crime. The declaration document endorsed energy cooperation and combating desertification. It also mentioned the setting up of Regional Offices for New Development Bank in BRICS countries. India is set to host the BRICS Digital Health Initiative, mainly to enhance health connectivity and services. This points at several bandwidth expansion by the grouping since its inception and setting new areas for joint cooperation.  

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