Narendra Modi seeks closer cooperation within BRICS and proposes a 10-pt initiative to further engagement
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said here on Thursday that “unilateral sanctions” are hurting the global economy, a statement that comes a day after he held deliberations with Russian President Vladimir Putin and just hours after he met Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
Modi said this in his address at the BRICS Business Council meeting, which kicked off the seventh annual BRICS Summit in the central Russian city, 1,300 km east of Moscow. He made a strong pitch for deeper cooperation among the member countries of the five-member BRICS grouping — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. “Unilateral sanctions are hurting the global economy. So it is very essential that BRICS economies deepen their cooperation. BRICS should also work with other developed regions,” he said while addressing the BRICS Business Council meeting here, soon after the start of the BRICS Summit.
At a briefing later in the day, when asked about the context of PM Modi’s comment, Sujata Mehta, secretary (economic relations) in the ministry of external affairs said: “India’s position is that sanctions of any nations should be approved by the UNSC… The UN embodies international law and India’s stated position is that it is opposed to any sanctions outside of it.”
Modi’s comments come at a time when the US and other Western nations countries have imposed sanctions on Russia over its actions on Ukraine. Russian-backed separatists have been battling Ukrainian troops since the annexation of Crimea by Moscow last year and the standoff has escalated in recent weeks.
President Putin was present when Modi spoke at the Business Council meeting — comprising 25 prominent entrepreneurs from the five member nations. The meeting was also attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and South African President Jacob Zuma. “The global economy currently is not strong. Even prominent developed economies like Europe are in crisis. Financial markets are unstable,” the Prime Minister said. He said there was a need for tapping the “unique” strengths that each member country of the BRICS and developing more linkages.
Later, at the Plenary session, Modi pitched for closer cooperation and coordination among BRICS nations and proposed a 10-point initiative to further the engagement. Calling it ‘Das Kadam: Ten Steps for the Future’, Modi proposed initiatives that include a BRICS trade fair, an intra-BRICS customs agreement, a railway research centre, cooperation among supreme audit institutions, a digital initiative and an agricultural research centre.
These also include State/Local Government’s Forum, cooperation amongst cities in field of Urbanisation, BRICS Sports Council and Annual Sports Meet, a film festival and the first major project of NDB to be in field of Clean Energy. “Also, every country should obey international rules and norms,” the Prime Minister said at the BRICS meet which was attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and South African President Jacob Zuma besides Chinese President Xi Jinping.
With regard to BRICS, Modi said that it is an “important pillar” in the world of challenges. In her briefing, Secretary Mehta said: “It will be our intention to carry forward the announcements made by our Prime Minister… The first announcement was that we should have an annual BRICS trade fair and our intention is that the first of these will be during India’s chairmanship during 2016.” India will be the next chair of BRICS for 11 months beginning February next year.
South African President Jacob Zuma earlier said at the Business Council meeting that his country supported measures to facilitate visas for business persons. He said South Africa unilaterally initiated such measures last year. South Africa suggested that a BRICS business pass be developed on the lines of the APEC Business Travel Card, where a holder does not need a visa to visit an APEC member country.
Russia proposed a roadmap for investment cooperation with the BRICS. “We have consulted with our businesses, and have included about 50 projects and initiatives, including the establishment of an energy association, the creation of an international energy research centre, as well as founding an industry union,” Vladimir Putin said at the plenary session.