Unity key issue at BRICS summit
The five so-called BRICS countries are expected to show the international community at a summit in New Delhi this week that they are united in pressing for reform of international financial institutions amid concerns that the group is not as strong as it appears to be, officials and analysts say.
Brazil, Russia, India and China came together six years ago with the aim of making the voices of emerging markets better heard. They were joined by South Africa in 2010. However, a lack of trust between some members, especially China and India, and uneven economic development have hindered their ambitions.
President Hu Jintao will arrive in New Delhi tomorrow and will attend a dinner hosted by President Pratibha Patil.
On Thursday, Hu will attend a series of talks at the BRICS summit, expected to conclude with a joint declaration, followed by a series of bilateral meetings before heading to Cambodia on Friday.
Sun Shihai, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, expects the BRICS members will focus on economic issues, such as their opposition to protectionism.
Zhao Gancheng, a director of South Asia studies at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, said they might push for the use of their own currencies to settle trade instead of relying on the US dollar, and discuss the agenda for the G20 summit in Mexico in June.
But Zhao said it remained to be seen whether BRICS would succeed in becoming more influential.
'China's economy has become influential nowadays, and the main issue facing us now is to enhance the economic power of the remaining BRICS countries,' he said. 'But, with the rise of India, I believe that the BRICS will be more influential in the future, as long as they can maintain unity.'
Analysts and Chinese officials say that one issue on which the BRICS should be able to forge a consensus is to press for reform of international financial institutions to enhance the representation of emerging markets.
BRICS leaders are expected to discuss candidates for World Bank president to succeed American Robert Zoellick. The post has been held by an American since the World Bank was established in 1944.
Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjolweala, backed by South Africa, and former Colombian finance minister Jose Antonio Ocampo, backed by Brazil, have reportedly been nominated to succeed Zoellick.
The summit may not discuss individual candidates, but Assistant Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu said last week the selection of the World Bank chief should be merit-based and transparent.
'The opinions of the emerging markets should be considered, and their representation should be ensured,' Ma said.
He said BRICS members were in close communication on reform of the International Monetary Fund and increasing resources for the IMF to tackle both the lingering European debt crisis and difficulties faced by emerging markets.
In addition to economic issues, they will discuss international problems, notably Syria and Iran.
Alexander Dvorkovich, an aide to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, said Syria and Iran would be a major focus of the summit because of their implications for global stability.
China and Russia vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning the Syrian government for violence, but India and South Africa supported the resolution.
Ma played down the differences among the BRICS, saying they were a sign of the group's vitality and they had reached a consensus that Syria's crisis should be resolved through political means.
Zhao said he believed that discussion of the Syrian crisis would be meticulously planned to avoid the risk of it overwhelming the talks.
'Focusing too much on it will create an obstacle for the summit,' he said.
Hu will hold bilateral talks with Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh after the summit. Sun said he expected border disputes between the two countries would be a focus.