Afghanistan and vaccines to be the focus at the virtual BRICS summit on Sept 9

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September 07, 2021 4:13 PM

This is the third time India is hosting the BRICS Summit, previously it was in 2012 & 2016 which Prime Minister Narendra Modi had chaired and it took place in Goa.

brics summit indiaThe alliance also sought a BRICS Venture Fund for Women Run Digital Companies. (File/BRICS India 2021 website)

Leaders of the BRICS group will meet virtually later this week for the 13th summit under the Chairship of India.  Situation in Afghanistan, fight against the global pandemic of COVID-19 as well as vaccines are going to be topping the agenda of talks.

This is the third time India is hosting the BRICS Summit, previously it was in 2012 & 2016 which Prime Minister Narendra Modi had chaired and it took place in Goa.

As has been reported earlier, the theme of the summit this year is ‘BRICS@15: Intra-BRICS cooperation for continuity, consolidation and consensus’. And India has already identified four priority areas for its Chairship and these are: Counter Terrorism, Using Digital and Technological Tools for achieving SDGs, Reform of the Multilateral System, and Enhancing People to People exchanges.

The leaders will also discuss the current global issues especially the situation in Afghanistan and its impact on the region. Global pandemic of COVID-19 and fight against it as well as vaccines will be on the agenda.

According to the Ministry of External Affairs, leaders of the five BRICS member countries — Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be hosting the meeting.

Also present during the meeting will be National Security Adviser, Ajit Doval, President of the New Development Bank, Marcos Troyjo, the pro tempore Chair of the BRICS Business Council, Onkar Kanwar and pro tempore Chair of the BRICS Women’s Business Alliance, Dr Sangita Reddy. They will present a review report on their sectors they have been tracking.

According to statement from Kremlin, “President Vladmir Putin will participate in the BRICS summit under India’s presidency. And the plans are to discuss the current international issues and the focus will be on Afghanistan.”

So far more than 50 meetings have already taken place under India’s Chairship in 2021 and this includes the Foreign ministers meet in June. And the member countries have in all the meetings focused on dealing with the global pandemic of COVID-19, TRIPS waiver for COVID-19 at WTO which has been backed by South Africa, counter-terrorism and reforms at multilateral groupings.

Last year, due to the global pandemic, the BRICS summit under the Chairship of Russia was hosted virtually. During the meeting in November 2020, it was the first time that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Chinese President Xi Jinping were on the same platform amidst the aggressive action by Chinese forces at the LAC in eastern Ladakh.

Expansion of New Development Bank
Recently, New Development Bank (NDB) in its first expansion admitted Bangladesh, Uruguay and the United Arab Emirates.

This bank was set up in 2015 by the BRICS member countries –India, Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa and since last year the talks with the potential new members were going on. The plan is to expand the NDB gradually and the new members will have a platform to further their cooperation in infrastructure and sustainable development.

The NDB which is Shanghai-headquartered and has so far has approved around 80 projects which are worth USD 30 billion in all of its member countries. The projects are across different sectors like water and sanitation, clean energy, digital and social infrastructure as well as transport.

Expert View on the expansion of NDB
“The much-awaited expansion of NDB membership takes the bank one step closer to realizing its global vocation. In practice, this means the bank can now mobilize resources from a larger pool of countries and invest in new markets to address their domestic infrastructure and sustainable development needs. As a global financial hub, the joining of the UAE into the bank is very welcome for this purpose and to strengthen collaboration with the private sector. The joining of Bangladesh and Uruguay, for their turn, creates an opportunity for the bank to play a catalytic role also at the regional level through the financing of economic integration projects in Latin America and South Asia,” says Karin Costa Vazquez, Fudan Scholar at the Center for BRICS Studies, Fudan University, China.

Prof Vazquez, Assistant Dean and Executive Director of the Center for African Latin American and Caribbean Studies at OP Jindal Global University, says, “The NDB can pioneer a new approach to development financing. To do that, it should look into strengthening public-private partnerships and financing regional integration projects. This would equip the bank with the tools to fully articulate its mandate and carve out a niche for itself in the development finance landscape.”

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