BRICS urged to develop common position on issues of global economic governance

March 27, 2012, Jaipur
“The BRICS group of countries should start building consensus for a common candidate from among the group of developing countries as the next Director General of the World Trade Organisation,” said G K Pillai, Former Commerce and Home Secretary of India, and the Chief Adviser to the BRICS Trade & Economic Research Network (BRICS-TERN). He was speaking on the occasion of the Network’s meeting in New Delhi in the run-up to the BRICS Leaders Summit which will be held in New Delhi on 29th March 2012.

“BRICS should develop clear position on some common issues of interests and coordinate among ourselves to make them happen. There is a tremendous amount of goodwill among our leaders but they do not always get reflected at the local level,” he added.

Welcoming the participants, Bipul Chatterjee, Deputy Executive Director, CUTS International said: “The emerging south has a major role in balancing the architecture of global economic governance. The activities of this Network will be an important contribution to that architecture.” “The Network members will analyse contemporary issues and challenges of global economic governance, which will help the BRICS group of countries to collectively put their demands on the table,” he said.

Drawing from the Sanya Declaration of the BRICS Leaders Summit held in China in 2011, five reputed policy research organisations came together to form this Track 2 initiative which will work on a range of issues on south-south cooperation. They are Fundacao Getulio Vargas, Brazil; EcoAccord, Russia; CUTS International, India; Shanghai WTO Affairs Consultation Center, China; and South African Institute of International Affairs.

Li EnHeng, Senior Adviser, Shanghai WTO Affairs Consultation Center and former Deputy Permanent Representative of China to the WTO said: “The Network should identify issues of common interest and conduct substantive debates and discussion on them.”

Presenting a paper on the possibility of a preferential trade agreement among the BRICS group of countries, Lucas Ferraz of FGV, Brazil said, the BRICS countries have a growing interest in preferential trade agreements and there is an economic case for them to form a trade bloc.

Reacting to this presentation, T S Vishwanath, Principal Trade Policy Adviser of the APJ-SLG Law Offices said, it is important to understand why, as against the past, emerging developing countries are now more interested in more comprehensive free trade agreements than just goods-only preferential trade agreements.

The discussion provided a deeper understanding of several aspects of the possibility of PTAs among the BRICS group of countries. G K Pillai wanted the group to look at supply-side capacity while negotiating PTAs.

Olga Ponizova, Executive Director of EcoAccord, Russia presented a paper on features and determinants of a green economy particularly in the context of climate change negotiations. She argued there should be a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis on the concept of low-carbon economy and cooperation on technology transfer among the BRICS countries.

The discussion centred on the necessity for cooperation including technology transfer among the emerging south. Ligia Noronha, Director, Resources and Global Security Division of The Energy and Resources Institute said, for better transfer of technology there should be flexibility in intellectual property rights regime.

“Binding commitments on the part of developing countries to cut carbon emissions make sense only when it takes into account stocks of carbon emissions as against just flows,” she argued. According to G K Pillai, “Counter proposals are important elements of any negotiation. In regard to climate change negotiations, we should stick to our position on common but differentiated responsibility for cutting carbon emissions.”

A study on a number of emerging trade-related issues such as trade and climate change, trade and food security, trade, debt and finance was presented by Faisal Ahmed, Associate Director, CUTS International. Reacting to this presentation, Aaditya Mattoo, Research Manager, Trade and Integration Division of the World Bank said, it is important to understand where do the interests of the BRICS group of countries converge and where do they diverge. “In case of India and China, there is a conflict between carbon externality and growth externality but not in case of Brazil,” he added.

Underlining the importance of multilateral negotiations, Mattoo argued that under-valuation of the Chinese currency should be looked from the recent surge in trade remedial measures that other developing countries are taking against China.

Gong Baihua, Associate President of the Shanghai WTO Affairs Consultation Center presented a paper on Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement and its implications on BRICS countries. Since BRICS group of countries is not a part of this Agreement, comprehensive impact analysis of the TPP on trade and other important macroeconomic variables is to be done to decipher future economic and strategic challenges, he argued.

Catherine Grant, Project and Programme Head of the Economic Diplomacy Programme of South African Institute of International Affairs made a presentation on the role of BRICS group of countries in global governance. The discussions revolved around how the emerging south can play a pivotal role in global economic governance, both through setting standards to be replicated as well as contributing to strengthening the multilateral trading system. The study assessed the role of BRICS in global economic governance from a political economy perspective.

The BRICS-TERN Network has adopted and placed a resolution on some of those common issues before the BRICS Leaders Summit. The Network has also resolved to continue its work on some of the identified issues so as to help the BRICS group of countries to develop common position on them.

For more information, please contact:
Bipul Chatterjee, + 91 98292 85921,
Kshitiz Sharma, + 91 98288 89991,