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BRICS has potential to make it big on international arena: experts

By Ndumiso Mlilo (Xinhua)

08:11, March 22, 2013

JOHANNESBURG , March 21 (Xinhua) -- By joining hands together, BRICS countries can bring about economic equity, good governance, multi-polarism and joint force to stop terrorism and a better world, experts told Xinhua.

Memory Dube, the senior researcher economic diplomacy in the South African Institute for International Affairs, says BRICS have a multi-pronged approach to solve challenges bedeviling them.

The researcher states BRICS members interact at different levels to address various challenges.

Memory said, "There are parallel track engagements that are particularly important in that they facilitate both a bottom-up and top-down approach to BRICS engagement.

"This includes meetings of foreign ministers, finance ministers, agriculture ministers, health ministers, and High Representatives on Security, as well as various other sectoral meetings covering such issues as technology and innovation, health, environmental issues, tax issues, corruption and others.

"Such engagement work to facilitate the institutionalization of the BRICS which would facilitate closer cooperation and coordination of positions on various international issues such as the ones outlined above."

BRICS members have been meeting from people to people level, business to business and even at labor union level to strengthen relations and follow a common cause.

The researcher states that BRICS countries were affected by the eurozone financial crisis because of their trade links to the developed world. Memory however contends that BRICS countries were not seriously affected by the crisis because of various reasons.

She says, "BRICS countries were not very exposed to the type of assets that led to the financial crisis, and many had large financial reserves that protected their financial systems. The first are domestic responses, which have not been done at a BRICS level but rather at an uncoordinated national level.

"China , for example, increased its government spending. The second type is to contribute to the IMF and other international organization's efforts to stem the financial crisis. The biggest example of this was the group's contribution to the IMF Firewall Fund.

"The third type is really to consider the BRICS themselves as a reaction to the financial crisis. With the developed world slowing down, the five countries see trade with the BRICS as a more sustainable alternative source of economic interaction," she added.

Clayson Monyela, the deputy director in the department of International Relations, told Xinhua that South Africa stresses trade balance for the mutual benefits.

Monyela says, " China even requested us to offer something they can buy from us. We submitted about 10 major items like beneficiation, agro-processing and others for their consideration we are engaging with various BRICS countries to balance the trade. We realize there are trade imbalances but we have agreed to address those."

He reiterates that economic growth of BRICS countries will be enhanced by the BRICS countries trade and cooperation. Economic development will also extend to other African countries. During the BRICS summit African leaders will interact with BRICS leaders.

The expert said, "BRICS leaders will use the Durban summit to promote economic development in the BRICS and African countries. The African leaders retreat is meant to stimulate trade, partnerships and economic development in the continent.

"We will also try to prevent what happened in Europe. BRICS in Durban will also discuss the contingency pool which will be used to assist BRICS countries in times of crisis," he said.

Clayson states that a BRICS development bank, a BRICS Business Council and think tanks which will be born out of the summit will also assist BRICS countries in steering their economy in the right direction.

Memory states that BRICS have a potential to be an economic and political giant and will leave footprints in every part of the world. She said the BRICS development bank will be a uniting factor in the BRICS countries.

Dube said, "If they can establish common norms then they will succeed in entrenching their position on the international arena. The proposed BRICS Development Bank is very important to create an institutional underpinning for the grouping.

"Right now there is no institution underpinning the group, and this could mean discussions between the five countries breakdown into a talk shop, with little real action taken. The BDB could act in a similar way to how the IMF and World Bank act in relation to the G20, by offering a mechanism to turn shared ideals into real action."

The researcher says there is need for the BRICS countries to devise and implement measures to minimize economic and political interference in the group. She said this would lead to a real sense of cooperation and coordination, target-driven and time- bound deliverables.

The researcher believes BRICS grouping China, India, Russia, Brazil and South Africa has to take appropriate measures and mechanisms for further development.

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