The leaders of Brazil, Russia, India and China, collectively known as the BRIC countries, will hold their first summit meeting on Tuesday in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg.
The four nations, as the key emerging economies in the world, are contributing increasingly to global economic growth and playing a vital role in stabilizing the world economic situation amidst the spreading international financial crisis.
BRIC's upcoming summit meeting, which has grabbed much of the international spotlight, marks the grouping's formal debut on the world arena.
"BRIC" is an acronym for Brazil, Russia, India and China, the four major developing countries.
Jim O'Neill, global head of economic research at Goldman Sachs, is credited with putting forward the BRIC concept in 2001. In a report in 2003, O'Neill predicted that the world economic structure would have been reshuffled by 2050, and the BRICs would overtake most developed Western nations such as Britain, France, Italy and Germany and would stand with the United States and Japan to be the world's six major economies.
The BRIC bloc has become an important force in the international arena even as the four countries are seeking closer cooperation between them. Most analysts agree that there is a broad prospect for their cooperation.
One of the main reasons for their stepped up efforts to strengthen cooperation is that rapid growth of the four economies in recent years has prompted the need for them to begin to reposition themselves in the international arena, analysts say.
Secondly, the on-going financial crisis, which started last summer in the United States and has quickly spread to the rest of the world, has made them more convinced of the urgency of establishing a new international political and economic order.
In addition, their strengthening bilateral ties and mutual political trust, as well as improved cooperation mechanisms, especially their ever closer trade links, have created favorable conditions for enhancing cooperation.
FOCUS OF THE SUMMIT MEETING
As BRIC refers to four of the world's fast growing economies, economy and finance would likely top the agenda of the first meeting of the BRIC leaders, apart from strengthening the framework for cooperation, said Brazilian Deputy Foreign Minister Roberto Jaguaribe in a recent interview with Xinhua.
Jaguaribe said discussions would likely be held on decisions taken at the G20 and G8 plus five summits and the right of emerging countries to have a bigger say in international affairs.
According to professor Sun Lijian, deputy dean of the Economic School at Fudan University in Shanghai, BRIC leaders are expected to ask the U.S. and European governments as well as relevant international organizations to strengthen supervision of these countries' financial capital and enhance risk warnings and information disclosure in the financial services.
Sun also said BRIC leaders would establish a relationship of mutual cooperation and common development. A unified mode of cooperation would have bigger scale effects, thus giving an impetus to mutual support and coordination among emerging market economies, Sun said.
Indian political scientist S.K. Gupta told Xinhua that the BRIC leaders are expected to discuss such issues as the future orientation of cooperation and ways of handling future financial crises with less reliance on the U.S. dollar.
THE MEETING'S SIGNIFICANCE
In an interview with Xinhua, Indian political analyst Ajay Singh said the BRIC countries are emerging market economies of global scale, and they are playing a more important role in reshaping today's global economic structure.
He said the upcoming BRIC gathering, which is very necessary, comes at a right time when the global economic structure has changed a lot and the world economic cooperation has seen a stronger sign of multilateralism.
Brazil's Jaguaribe said the forthcoming BRIC meeting, while unlikely to come up with concrete measures, marks the beginning of the functioning of an inter-active mechanism, for there are great potentials for their cooperation and similar summit meetings are expected to be held on a regular basis.
He said one of the most important results expected to come out of the upcoming BRIC summit would be an agenda for the four's future cooperation.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov told Xinhua that Russia has made it clear that leaders and experts in these four countries have all realized the importance of continued cooperation on the basis of this platform.
The world's emerging economies, including the four BRIC countries, will have conflicts of interests with the developed nations, said Lev Frainkman, an expert at Russia's Institute for the Economy in Transition.
Therefore, it would be very important to have consultations and coordination within the BRIC framework in order to ease such conflicts, he told Xinhua, noting that the BRIC countries should also make it clear to the rest of the world that the BRIC countries' rising standing would not pose a threat to others.
Jaguaribe said BRIC was interested in expanding bilateral trade. He said that trade protectionism was not the solution to the financial crisis. Most countries try to avoid it, including Brazil and China whose leaders have vowed to enhance bilateral exchange and cooperation.
Sergei Aleksashenko from Moscow's Higher School of Economics (HSE) said that the BRIC countries can pool their respective resources to seek common development in such areas as the aviation industry and software development.
Indian political scientist S.K. Gupta said that the four nations have very distinct economic development characteristics, so they can supplement each other in various fields such as finance, energy, services, technology, agriculture, environmental protection and food safety, as well as in multilateral trade talks at the World Trade Organization (WTO).
He Shuangrong, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that tackling the financial crisis and combating trade protectionism are undoubtedly among the most urgent tasks which require cooperation among the BRIC nations. The BRIC countries should exert greater efforts to push for the establishment of a more equitable international economic order, He said.