News Analysis: What can world learn from BRICS summit in Sanya?

09:39, April 15, 2011      

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Sanya, China's southernmost city in Hainan province, is said to be a place where five of the major rivers in the region converge before flowing into the ocean. On Thursday, five emerging economies in the world also met here to help create a new world order.

The leaders of China, Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa wrapped up a one-day summit with repeated calls for reforming the global monetary and financial system and more promises of cooperation among themselves, but uncertainties lingered over how the so-called BRICS mechanism could fit in a fast-changing world.


Five summiteers, from four different continents, spoke four distinct languages.

When the leaders of China, Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa met for the BRICS Leaders Meeting in Sanya, the gathering itself spoke a lot how much the world had changed as decades of strong economic growth pushed major emerging economies not only closer to each other but also to the center of the world stage.

Aware of this change of the world economic order, the BRICS countries called for changes in the global economic governance architecture so that it could better reflect their voices on global economic issues.

"The governing structure of the international financial institutions should reflect the changes in the world economy, increasing the voice and representation of emerging economies and developing countries," said the Sanya Declaration released at the end of the meeting.

Besides, they also aimed at reforming the international monetary and financial system.

"Recognizing that the international financial crisis has exposed the inadequacies and deficiencies of the existing international monetary and financial system, we support the reform and improvement of the international monetary system," they said.

The current global economic order, established over decades after World War II, had long been dominated by developed countries, a fact criticized more and more often by major emerging economies.

Traditional economic powerhouses like the United States and some other European countries had not only enjoyed a much larger say at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, they also had tended to make crucial decisions on global economic issues at the exclusive summits of the Group of Eight (G8) countries.

The arrangement had worked for decades, but appeared increasingly incompetent in the past decade as the rise of major emerging economies dramatically changed the world economic landscape, with fast growing developing countries like China and India accounting for a bigger and bigger chunk of the world economy.

Many of the changes the BRICS countries eyed, however, might not come easily.

Yielding to pressure from developing countries, the World Bank decided to transfer 3.13 percent of its voting rights from developed countries to developing members in 2010. The IMF, meanwhile, said it would increase the quotas of the developing countries by 6 percent before 2012.

But even after those changes, the developed countries still had a larger representation at the two organizations.

As for changing the international monetary system, the task could prove to be even more difficult.

The BRICS countries believe the dollar has failed to provide much needed stability to the world economy as the value of the greenback fluctuated dramatically based on the U.S. domestic economic situation and monetary policies.

But the dollar still accounted more than 60 percent of global foreign exchange reserves. None of the currencies of the BRICS countries are now widely used outside their respectively countries.

But the BRICS countries seemed determined to change the status quo, partly by increasing financial cooperation among themselves.

A Russian bank said at a financial forum held on the sidelines of the BRICS leaders meeting that it was considering issuing bonds denominated in the Chinese yuan in Hong Kong.

BRICS bank officials also said the five countries could conduct bilateral trade in their own currencies to reduce reliance on the dollar and pave the way for their own currencies to play a bigger international role.

Analysts expect changes to the international organizations and the current global monetary system to come only gradually as the BRICS countries had to bargain their way onto the center of the world stage with the developed countries.

A strengthened BRICS mechanism where the five countries could speak in a unified and stronger voice was helpful in this process.

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