NEW DELHI: The forthcoming BRICS summit in Brazil will mark Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s debut on the international stage and will be his first multilateral interaction in the rarified world of top powers. He will be meeting with President Xi Jinping of China and Russian President Vladimir Putin, among several other world leaders.
Economics has been the mainstay of the previous five summits, and the Brazilian edition will not be an exception.
The show-piece of the summit is expected to be a new international bank, which will be signed off by Modi, along with Brazilian host Dilma Rousoff, South African President Jacob Zuma, Xi Jinping and Putin in Fortaleza.
But, there is likely to be much give-and-take before it takes final shape at the ministerial meeting on July 14. The main issues of equal voting rights, presidency of the bank and the location of headquarters have to be sorted out - which will require intense negotiations till the last minute.
New Delhi is especially keen that the bank should not be a photocopy of the Brettonwood system, so that China - with its dominant economy - should not get more weight in voting rights.
India has already made clear its priorities for the sixth edition of the summit-- a development bank, an emergency reserve fund to draw upon in event of liquidity crunch, influencing post-2015 development agenda and export credit guarantees. The focus on economics is not an accidental one in BRICS, especially with five countries hardly seeing much convergence on major political issues.
For example, India has already identified United Nations Security Council reforms as a major agenda item for BRICS, especially as it wants to see some movement in time for UN’s 70th anniversary in 2015.
Three members of G-4 who are self-proclaimed candidates for expanded UNSC, South Africa, India and Brazil are part of BRICS. But, while BRICS statement may make some anodyne remarks, it is also a fact that China and Russia have been major instigators of the opposition against the G-4 in New York.
“Let’s see what’s the wording in the document...The final declaration will reflect the trade-offs between the various countries,” said a senior government official.
Last year’s declaration had given a joint position on the then burning international topics - middle-east peace process, Syria, Afghanistan, Mali and Iran nuclear issue. Similarly, there would be reference to most of them this time, with addition of Iraq. Russia is keen for mention of Ukraine, which will again lead to some quid-pro-quo talks over other areas of the declaration.
From his initial predilection with all things South Asia, Modi will now have to jump to a larger canvas to grapple with the various interests of the diverse group, even as he tries to build personal rapport with his interlocutors.